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Welcome to our Systematic Reviews Guide. This is primarily for Nursing, Midwifery, Health, Radiography and Radiotherapy students doing research and dissertation modules. However, other taught-postgraduate students may also find this guide helpful.
Traditional literature reviews are those where researchers have sought to organise existing knowledge and publish summary of a variety of topics. They are useful for background reading and gathering information on a specific topic.
They are less rigorous than a Systematic Literature Review (SLR) and conducted by one researcher.
Based on one or more databases.
Uses appropriate terms with synonyms, related terms etc.
Include an audit trail (usually presented in a table) showing how you arrived at your final articles.
PRISMA - Preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses
An Introduction to Systematic Reviews by David Gough (Editor); Sandy Oliver (Editor); James Thomas (Editor)Focused on actively using systematic review as method, this book provides clear, step-by-step advice on the logic and processes of systematic reviewing. Stressing the importance of precision and accuracy, this new edition carefully balances a need for insightful theory with real-world pragmatism; it introduces a wide range of cutting-edge approaches to research synthesis including text mining, living reviews and new ideas in mixed methods reviews such as qualitative comparative analysis. The book also includes: A new chapter on statistical synthesis Coverage of computer-assisted methods and relevant software Expanded sections on data extraction and management A guide to working with many different types of data including longitudinal and panel. Packed with examples from across the social sciences, this book helps students and researchers alike in turning systematic reviews into recommendations for policy and practice.
Systematic Reviews in the Social Sciences by Mark Petticrew; Helen Roberts;Such diverse thinkers as Lao-Tze, Confucius, and U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld have all pointed out that we need to be able to tell the difference between real and assumed knowledge. The systematic review is a scientific tool that can help with this difficult task. It can help, for example, with appraising, summarising, and communicating the results and implications of otherwise unmanageable quantities of data. This book, written by two highly-respected social scientists, provides an overview of systematic literature review methods: Outlining the rationale and methods of systematic reviews; Giving worked examples from social science and other fields; Applying the practice to all social science disciplines; It requires no previous knowledge, but takes the reader through the process stage by stage; Drawing on examples from such diverse fields as psychology, criminology, education, transport, social welfare, public health, and housing and urban policy, among others. Including detailed sections on assessing the quality of both quantitative, and qualitative research; searching for evidence in the social sciences; meta-analytic and other methods of evidence synthesis; publication bias; heterogeneity; and approaches to dissemination.
Call Number: 300.723 PET + E book
Publication Date: 2005
A systematic review is a review of a clearly formulated question that uses systematic and explicit methods to identify, select and critically appraise relevant research and to collect and analyse data from the studies that are included in the review (Cochrane Handbook, 2011). Often conducted by a team rather than a single researcher, it is not merely a descriptive summary of the studies you have chosen but should aim to do the following:
Focus on a single topic with strict criteria parameters and consistent methodology.
Cover all the available research relating to the question.
Draw the evidence together and start to relate the studies together.
Combine findings across the studies and look for themes and patterns, similarities and overlaps and differences between the studies.
Draw together different study perspectives and recommendations for practice.
Acknowledge the study limitations as presented by the authors themselves or, alternatively, include an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the studies.
Examine, compare and summarise each piece of research identified.
Aim for a considered judgement and a balanced and unbiased conclusion.
Learn more about Systematic Reviews, by watching the video below
Top of hierarchy
Secondary research (pre-appraised and synthesized)
Evidence based guidelines
Systematic reviews (syntheses of existing studies)
Primary research(original first hand research)
Single large group study e.g. Randomised Controlled Trials (RCTs)
Other groups studies e.g. observation studies
Case study or report
Background information or expert opinion
Bottom of hierarchy
Resources to Undertake Systematic Reviews
The University offers a wide range of academic databases that are suitable to undertake your systematic review. For example, if you are a health student you may like to explore CINAHL or British Nursing Database, or if you are a Psychology student, PsycARTICLES and Proquest Psychology Datase would be suitable. You can access these from our A-Z of e-Journals. Using, a Discovery tool, such as Summon is not suitable for the structured approach that needs to be undertaken when undertaking a Systematic Review.
All images included in this guide are available from Upsplash through Creative Commons licensing CC-BY-2.0