A high quality systematic review is typically conducted by a team of researchers over a long time period. This guide is aimed at individual researchers searching systematically but over a shorter time span.
A systematic review is a high-level overview of primary research on a particular research question that tries to identify, select, synthesize and appraise all high quality research evidence relevant to that question in order to answer it.
(Definition from Cochrane Collaboration http://www.cochrane.org/about-us/evidence-based-health-care)
The methodology used to collect the research has to be consistent in order to reduce misinterpretation and misrepresentation of the data.
High quality systematic reviews usually involve a minimum of two people working as part of a research team and can typically take a minimum of a year to complete. Cochrane Collaboration reviews for instance cannot be produced by individuals as the selection of studies for eligibility and data extraction has to be performed by at least two people independently.
There are five key steps in producing a systematic literature review:
|Step 1||Formulate your research question|
|Step 2||Identify your search terms and conduct your searches|
|Step 3||Assess the quality of the studies|
|Step 4||Summarise the evidence|
|Step 5||Interpret the findings|