About Systematic Reviews

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Different types of systematic reviews are recognized as some of the most reliable sources of evidence. Whether it’s systematic reviews in nursing, risk analysis, academics, or another format, each follows a rigorous process that requires a discerning eye, critical thinking skills, and a systematic approach.

Due to the nature of its methodology, it’s essential that systematic reviews are done by at least two researchers. It would be even better if three people are involved, with the extra person being the tie-breaker when the first two can’t reach a mutual decision on an issue. With the right team, you can quickly deliver a systematic review that’s thorough and contains well-qualified results.

Systematic reviews should always be reported with a low risk of bias. Involving two or more people in the review process is one of the ways of minimizing if not eliminating errors. More researchers enable effective minimization of selection bias, information bias and bias in an analysis which eventually results in high-quality findings.

What Is A Systematic Review?

A systematic review is an analysis that uses systematic and explicit methods to select, appraise and analyze pieces of research to answer a well-focused research question. It attempts to collect all relevant evidence on the selected topic (including unpublished studies) based on specific eligibility criteria. It then assesses the findings and synthesizes them in a systematic way.

The methodology of a systematic review reduces the risk of bias and ensures that findings are reliable. The result is a balanced summary of findings, which are often used to guide evidence-based fields such as medicine. You can find these in different sources, but if you’re wondering what database is used to find systematic reviews in particular, then you can look at The Cochrane Library, PROSPERO and the Joanna Briggs Institute, among others.

How To Do A Systematic Review

A systematic review takes months, or sometimes years, to complete, depending on the complexity of the topic, the availability of studies, the support provided to the research team, etc. Here are the steps you must take to do a systematic review.

Define The Research Question

The first step of a systematic review is crafting a research question. This must be an answerable query that zeroes in on a singular topic; it must not have been answered in a previous systematic review.

Gather a Team

Assemble a team of experts in the field of your topic to conduct the review. You need at least two people, although three or more are preferable. Extra hands mean extra help in gathering evidence and assessing studies. Furthermore, the additional person can also aid in decision-making for the team.

Design Your Protocol

Every systematic review requires a protocol or plan that details how you will carry out each stage of your review. This acts as the foundation of your study and includes goals, timelines, project management, etc. to guide your methodology.

Search And Select Literature

This step, which makes up a large chunk of the entire process, involves scouring for all published and unpublished literature relevant to your research topic. The best way to be thorough is to seek help from a librarian or an industry expert, but you most likely will have to do some searching on your own too.

Appraise Relevant Studies

Choose which pieces of literature to include or exclude in your review based on your eligibility criteria, then assess them to address any conflicts between the different studies.

Assess Findings

Extract the data from your selected studies and summarize them in a narrative synthesis or a Summary of Findings. Then, assess the research, interpret the results, and make your analyses and conclusions.

Write The Paper

Once your data gathering and assessment are done, it’s time to put your findings on paper. Your systematic review report must include an introduction of your topic, an explanation of your methodology, and a presentation of your findings and results—all done in a systematic, unbiased, and balanced way.

It Takes a Team

Conducting a systematic review requires a lot of work, and it’s recommended that a team of at least two or three people is committed in order to derive quality work and eliminate biases. Regardless of how many are in the team, literature review software such as DistillerSR is a great tool that can help make each step of the process more streamlined and faster, allowing you to focus on delivering the best results.

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