A systematic review, or systematic literature review, is a type of literature review that uses systematic methods to collect secondary data, critically appraise research studies, and synthesize findings qualitatively or quantitatively. Systematic reviews formulate research questions that are broad or narrow in scope, and identify and synthesize studies that directly relate to the systematic review question. They are designed to provide a complete, exhaustive summary of current evidence, published and unpublished, that is "methodical, comprehensive, transparent, and replicable."
An understanding of systematic reviews and how to implement them in practice is highly recommended for professionals involved in the delivery of health care, public health, and public policy. Systematic reviews of randomized controlled trials are key to the practice of evidence-based medicine, and a review of existing studies is often quicker and cheaper than embarking on a new study. Contrastingly, systematic reviews of observational studies rank lower in the evidence-based hierarchy. However, another important factor that impacts the quality of the evidence is the accuracy of the methodological design and execution of the systematic review carried out by the authors.
While systematic reviews are often applied in the biomedical or healthcare context, they can be used in other areas where an assessment of a precisely defined subject would be helpful. For example, systematic reviews are becoming increasingly common in management, accounting and finance. Systematic reviews may examine clinical tests, public health interventions, environmental interventions, social interventions, adverse effects and economic evaluations.
'Systematic review' (2020) Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Systematic_review (Accessed: 20 October 2020).
The Library staff are available to assist with your systematic reviews: we can advise on the best databases to use for your particular topic, we provide guidance on searching techniques, we can show you how to set up search alerts so that you keep up to date with the latest research in your field, and we provide assistance in the use of reference management tools. The staff to contact are:
Science & Pharmacy
Principal Faculty Services Librarian: Thandiwe Menze
Commerce & Law
Principal Faculty Services Librarian: Jill Otto