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Qualitative Systematic Review Guidelines

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Conducting systematic reviews can be a highly enlightening process. By bringing together several studies that investigate similar areas, the overlap can generate thought-provoking developments – particularly in the systematic review discussion section of your review.

However, there are several types of systematic reviews, and picking the correct one for your needs is crucial to writing an effective review. In fact, choosing between the types of systematic reviews can be considered a part of the wider systematic review methodology. Some would argue that picking the right type of review is almost as important as selecting which studies to include or exclude from the systematic review.

Therefore, one should know what types of systematic reviews are available, to pick the one that best suits their research needs. In this article, we look at qualitative systematic reviews in detail and give you guidelines so you can pull together an effective and professional review yourself. We believe the automation of the process we provide, makes it an economical and time-efficient way to conduct a systematic review.

Can You Conduct A Qualitative Systematic Review?

A systematic review can be either qualitative or quantitative – or both. Many people automatically think of reviews as being quantitative due to the amount of analysis involved. However, qualitative reviews most definitely do exist and have their own benefits. A qualitative review, in comparison to a quantitative one, which inspects studies with numerical information, will look at observations and interviews.

They can be used as an effective tool to build on previously believed concepts. While qualitative analysis is a less tangible form of investigation, it is still essential to conduct. By looking at past qualitative results and comparing them to one another, it is possible to bring together subjective viewpoints for debate. However, despite being more subjective, it must still be approached in a scientific and logical manner. It should methodically compile all previous qualitative research to help derive new conclusions.

How Many Studies Should Be Included In A Qualitative Systematic Review?

Given that qualitative systematic reviews can be extremely useful, it is essential to know how many studies should be included to make the end review as persuasive as possible. In general, there is no hard, and fast rule that requires a qualitative systematic review to include a particular number of studies. However, to be of any practical use, a review should at the very least include two studies. This allows comparison, which is what a review article is often trying to do. By comparing two studies, you can debate those aforementioned subjective viewpoints to conclude new opinions and help generate key developments.

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How Do You Present Qualitative Results In A Systematic Review?

Sadly, there is no one right answer to this question. The fact is that, despite being qualitative, some reviews will require results displayed in one way, while some will benefit from them being presented in another. In short, if you are ever in doubt, the most vital thing to remember is that your results must be clear. Make sure they are transparent so that there is no room for argument with the conclusions you draw.

To do so, try to take the viewpoint of an individual who has never viewed your data before. In what way would they need to see your results to understand the conclusion you have drawn? So, for example, draw attention to any contradictions, or any instances where the results of different studies support one another. Remember, the more clearly you present your results, the more impactful your conclusions can be as the results are understandable and therefore more persuasive.

Qualitative Systematic Reviews

Conducting a qualitative systematic review can require a lot of resources and personnel time. Qualitative analyses also utilize approaches such as grounded theory and thematic analyses which are time-consuming and sometimes multifaceted.  Therefore, automation software such as DistillerSR can be quite helpful. Using the software ensures that the process is as quick and efficient as possible. It can make the results of a review far more persuasive as automation speeds up the process, streamlines the entire procedure, and checks its compliance with industry regulations.

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