Basics of Systematic Reviews

Getting Started with Systematic Reviews

What is a Systematic Review?

Systematic review attempts to identify, appraise and synthesize all the empirical evidence that meets pre-specified eligibility criteria to answer a specific research question. Researchers conducting systematic reviews use explicit, systematic methods that are selected with a view aimed at minimizing bias, to produce more reliable findings to inform decision making.

A systematic review looks at all the existing research for a given question. Systematic reviews can be used to establish the state of existing knowledge and are frequently used in funder guideline development. Systematic reviews are most frequently completed in medicine and the health-sciences but are becoming more and more prevalent across disciplines.

There are many types of reviews in research, the key elements that separate systematic review from others are:

  • Reproducible, systematic search
  • Focused research question/hypothesis
  • Duration (typically 12-24 months)