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Systematic Review: Introduction

This guide presents tools and advice for conducting systematic reviews.

Using This Guide

This guide is designed for any member of the UCD Community, staff or student, who is involved in a Systematic Review, Scoping Review or any similar review.

These reviews are by their nature team based research projects with an emphasis on transparency, reproducibility and preventing bias.

Here you will find information about the various types of reviews and suggestions on how to make sure you are selecting the correct review for your research question.

Also available on the guide are links to the relevant manuals, frameworks and tools to help you with your review.

For general guidance on literature reviews, please see our Literature Review guide.

What are Reviews?

A Review attempts to collate all empirical evidence that fits pre-specified eligibility criteria in order to answer a specific research question.  It  uses explicit, systematic methods that are selected with a view to minimizing bias, thus providing more reliable findings from which conclusions can be drawn and decisions made. 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.

(Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions, 2011)