This site brings together resources available from UVic Libraries and provides an overview of the systematic review process, guidance for conducting evidence synthesis projects, and links to resources to help researchers conduct a comprehensive reviews.
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A systematic review uses a structured and reproducible method to identify, assess and critically appraise all relevant studies in response to a specific research query. It can be either quantitative or qualitative, and will generally take a team of researchers many months to complete (Wilkinson, 2020).
The key characteristics of a systematic review are:
a clearly stated set of objectives with pre-defined eligibility criteria for studies;
an explicit, reproducible methodology;
a systematic search that attempts to identify all studies that would meet the eligibility criteria;
an assessment of the validity of the findings of the included studies, for example through the assessment of risk of bias; and
a systematic presentation, and synthesis, of the characteristics and findings of the included studies (Higgins & Thomas, 2019).
Evidence synthesis refers to any method of identifying, selecting, and combining results from multiple studies. A systematic review is a rigorous type of evidence synthesis. Systematic reviews require more time and manpower than traditional literature reviews. While this guide focuses on systematic reviews, readers should be aware of the other types of reviews (scoping reviews, narrative reviews, etc). that are viable forms of evidence synthesis.
How can the UVic Libraries help?
The National Academy of Medicine, PRIMSA, and the Cochrane Collaboration all recommend consulting with a librarian when developing a systematic review. Librarians are specially trained in developing search strategies and methodologies for systematic reviews.
Librarians trained in evidence synthesis methods can provide support in many stages of the review process. For example, we can:
Contact UVic Libraries for a systematic review consultation. List your department in the request.
Please note that librarians can only advise on search strategies, documentation, and information resources, and they will not conduct searching on your behalf.
Wondering how to conduct a systematic review? This explainer video from The Evidence Synthesis Academy at Brown University walks you through the basic steps.
Wondering what evidence synthesis is? This explainer video from Cochrane Ireland walks you through what it is and why we need it, particularly in healthcase.
Higgins, J., & Thomas, J. (2019). Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions. https://training.cochrane.org/handbook/current
Wilkinson, J. (2020, August 11). Systematic review tips every librarian should know. Web of Science Group. https://clarivate.com/webofsciencegroup/article/systematic-review-tips-every-librarian-should-know/