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What is a systematic review?

"A systematic review attempts to collect relevant evidence that fits pre-specified criteria to answer a specific research question"

Source: Forskerkurser.dk

Systematic reviews use clearly formulated research questions and systematic and reproducible methods to identify, select and critically appraise all relevant research and collect and analyse data from the studies included in the review.

A systematic review consists of a well-defined clinical question, wtih predefined inclusion and exclusion criteria. 
The structure of a systematic reflects the stages outlined in the protocol and follows standard reporting guidelines. One such standard is the PRISMA checklist.  
Download the PRISMA Checklist og flowchart skemaer her: 
http://www.prisma-statement.org/

Why conduct a systematic review?

  • Lack of knowledge within a well-defined problem area.
  • An important (clinical) problem needs to be addressed.
  • Background for clinical guidelines.
  • The need for specific knowledge.
  • You have the time and resources to invest in the SR.
  • Easy to get published (when the SR is done well).

 

Illustration of the evidence hierarchy

   

 

Meta-analyses use statistical methods to summarize the results found in a systematic review. The highest grade of evidence is produced by meta-analyses that summarize the evidence from systematic reviews of RCTs. Various guidelines and tools are available to ensure that the variables and data underlying the estimates of effects are comparable.

   

Systematic reviews use clearly formulated research questions and systematic and reproducible methods to identify, select and critically appraise all relevant research and collect and analyse data from the studies included in the review.

    
   


 

Randomised controlled trials (RCT) is the investigation into the effect of a treatment or intervention. A RCT randomly assigns participants into an experimental group or a control group. The difference between the groups is the outcome variable being studied. A blinded RCT means that any information that can bias the outcome, reduce detection or effect performance is withheld until after the experiment is complete.

       


 
Cohort studies are longitudal studies that samples a group of people that share defining characteristics, such as have given birth, have graduated university or have undergone a treatment programme. Cross-sections of the cohort can be studied through time to explore links in behaviour, exposure and factors that increase or decrease the likelihood for developing a disease.
       

 
Case-control studies compares two groups of people, those with the condition or exposed to an intervention and a similar group of people who have not been exposed to the condition or intervention. Case-controls can be prospective or retrospective.
       

 

Case reports are an indepth study og one person, groups or event. In medicin it is a detail report about symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and therapy and follow-up of the case. Incident reports document exact details of the demographic profile of the case person(s), but as a rule describe an unusual or new event or occurance.

        Narrative reviews have the lowest level og evidence as the author expresses their opinion on a topic of interest. There is no predetermined protocol, research question or specified search strategy.

KUB Systematic Review Service

KUB Systematic Review Service
We offer consultations and hands-on help in the design and conduct of your review.
The services is for students and faculty affiliated Copenhagen University.
The service is available from Autumn 2021.
Find out more about our service about how to contact us in "Service and Contact".

Systematic Reviews (SR)

While systematic reviews are often applied in the health Sciences, they are increasingly being used in other areas where an assessment of a precisely defined subject is helpful. Systematic reviews may examine clinical tests, public health or environmental interventions, social policy, criminology, educational and economic evaluations. 

SR in the Social Sciences

 

SR are increasling popular in the Social Sciences. However, one will typically be working with a larger set of references than in the clincal sciences, perhaps between 10,000 and 15,000 hits).

The large amount of references means a greater investment in the screening processes. Often, a SR in the Social science can take years to conduct and publish.

SR in Law

SR are not commonly applied in legal dogmatic research, however they are used in criminology and forensic psychology.

However more and more researchers are recommending working with systematic reviews, also in the field of legal dogmatics. As of yet, registering the protocol and applying the PRISMA guidelines is not practised.

 

SR in the Humanities

SR is a tool that is used to a limited extent in the humanities. A SR offers a more strict search method than traditionally used in the Humanities.

There are though some commonalities between a SR and a traditional literary review that might encourage one to try out SR methods and tools, especially if you are working with a large research question.