About Systematic Reviews

What Is the Systematic Review Gold Standard?

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Systematic reviews can be exceptionally useful research tools in almost any subject or industry. By bringing together multiple previous studies, these reviews allow authors to compare all the existing findings. This collation of studies helps with the synthesis of results in a systematic review which is crucial to the systematic review process. Authors may use a Systematic Review Data Repository Plus (SRDR+) tool to make sure they have included all the results from previous studies. Compiling the data is essential to ensure that a systematic review is valid and reliable.

However, there are many other elements that a systematic review needs for it to achieve a gold standard of quality. A systematic review author can be certain that their review will be useful to its readers, and that any discussion points they make will have weight and resonance if they create a review of the highest quality. Here, we look at what a systematic review gold standard is, and what a high-quality systematic review should include making sure it is the very best it can be.

What Is A Systematic Review Gold Standard?

A systematic review gold standard is a review that takes into account all relevant studies that have been conducted previously, to come to new opinions or to further support previously held beliefs on a topic.
Additionally, to achieve the gold standard, authors of a systematic review must make sure that their review includes all relevant sections that are needed in a systematic review. Apart from the inclusion of all relevant eligible studies, the general adherence to the methodology of a systematic review leads to a high-quality research paper.

Perhaps most importantly, including all necessary and pertinent information means that the conclusions drawn are useful to those within the review’s industry.

What Does A High-Quality Systematic Review Include?

A high-quality review, that achieves a gold standard, must include the following sections:

Research Question

The question, or questions, your work needs to answer is arguably one of the most influential parts of your review. Structuring the question right from the beginning can help direct your research, by making sure it is not too vague. Also having one research question is highly recommended as it creates a clearly defined path of research, as compared to having two or more research questions. Defining your question appropriately is, therefore, critical.

Inclusion and Exclusion of Criteria

Next, you need to address what type of studies you are including, and what you think is necessary to exclude. In short, that means explaining why you will include some studies, and why you are not using other results or studies.

Results Synthesis

In the results section of your review, you are combining and compiling all the results from previous studies. This helps provide an exhaustive list of all the data that has been selected and puts it in one place. It allows for easy comparison, which strengthens beliefs regarding the topic of your review. On the flip side, your results can also identify weaknesses in previously held opinions. The themes, agreements, and contradictions among studies are also made a little bit clearer during result synthesis.


The discussion section of a systematic review analyzes results and interprets data. By looking at several studies at once, there is an opportunity to look at anomalies or patterns and contradictions or agreements among studies, which could encourage thought-provoking developments within that area of research.

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How to Reach a Gold Standard in a Systematic Review

Reaching a gold-standard review is possible by including all of the aforementioned sections, and information. However, it is also essential that you present your systematic review clearly so that there is no room for confusion among the readers. Your work will have the best chance of acceptance by your peers if your findings are clearly laid out.

Additionally, your discussion point must take into account any limitations that your systematic review has. The strengths and weaknesses of included studies should also be addressed. The impact that these study characteristics have on the review results should be stated. In this way, you can anticipate any criticism that may come up about your work. By being able to predict what issues may transpire from your review, you can address that criticism from the outset, and state why your work is still valid and worthwhile.

Achieving A Gold Standard In Systematic Reviews

Achieving a gold standard systematic review is a challenging task, but it is possible if you take a methodical approach to creating your review. By making use of automation, like with the DistillerSR software, you can take out a great deal of the time-consuming, labor-intensive process, so you can focus on adding real value. By freeing up your time through automation, you can concentrate on the discussion and analysis section of your review.

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