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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
Doing a Literature Search by Hart, C.Doing a Literature Search provides a practical and comprehensive guide to searching the literature on any topic within the social sciences. The book will enable the reader to search the literature effectively, identifying useful books, articles, statistics and many other sources of information.
Call Number: STSK 300.72 HAR
Publication Date: 2001
Doing a Systematic Review by Dickson, R. (Editor); Cherry, G (Editor).; Boland, A.;Written in a friendly, accessible style by an expert team of authors with years of experience in both conducting and supervising systematic reviews, this is the perfect guide to using systematic review methodology in a research project. It provides clear answers to all review-related questions, including: How do I formulate an appropriate review question? What's the best way to manage my review? How do I develop my search strategy? How do I get started with data extraction? How do I assess the quality of a study? How can I analyse and synthesize my data? How should I write up the discussion and conclusion sections of my dissertation or thesis?
The Ethics of Research with Children and Young People by Alderson, P.; Morrow, V.Ethical questions are at the centre of research with children and young people. This clear and practical text informs students and researchers about the relevant laws and guidelines and current debates in research ethics. Priscilla Alderson and Virginia Morrow cover ethics at every stage of research, and with all kinds of young research participants, particularly those who are vulnerable or neglected. They break down the process of research into ten stages, each with its own set of related questions and problems, and they show how these need to be addressed. This practical book is essential reading for anyone who conducts or reviews research with children or young people. Priscilla Alderson is Emerita Professor of Childhood Studies at the Institute of Education University of London. Virginia Morrow is Senior Research Officer in the Department of International Development, University of Oxford.
Call Number: 305.23 ALD + E book
Publication Date: 2011
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 Discovery 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