This short video outlines the typical process involved in conducting a systematic review:
EndNote - a reference management tool which helps you to save and manage bibliographic references.
Covidence - an online systematic review program. You can access the free trial version to work out if it's suitable for your project. Otherwise it is free to use for Cochrane authors.
RevMan 5 - the software used for preparing and maintaining Cochrane Reviews.
"A systematic review attempts to identify, appraise and synthesize all the empirical evidence that meets pre-specified eligibility criteria to answer a given research question. Researchers conducting systematic reviews use explicit methods aimed at minimizing bias, in order to produce more reliable findings that can be used to inform decision making."
Cochrane Library 2017, About Cochrane Reviews, Cochrane Library, viewed 19 October 2017, <http://www.cochranelibrary.com/about/about-cochrane-systematic-reviews.html>
As explained in this guide, a good literature review should be carried out in an organised, systematic way (consistent search terms,documenting your search). However, a well organised literature review does not qualify it as a 'systematic literature review'. A systematic literature review must follow a specific methodology which is explicit, reproducible and transparent. Systematic Review guidelines and handbooks (such as PRISMA Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses, The Campbell Collaboration, the Cochrane handbook for systematic reviews of interventions and the Joanna Briggs Institute reviewer's manual ) will outline a set of discrete steps and processes to follow to satisfy the criteria of a 'systematic review'. The common thread between all of these is that the steps and processes should be identified in advance, in a review protocol. Ideally the review protocol and final review report will be published together for transparency and reproducibility. A typical review protocol will include:
Before you begin your systematic review, it can be helpful to read other reviews related to your topic (and also make sure you are not 're-inventing the wheel'). PROSPERO is an international register of systematic reviews in health and social care, welfare, public health, education, crime, justice, and international development, where there is a health related outcome.
You can also search a range of subject databases (available at VU Library), such as such as MEDLINE, CINAHL, PsycINFO and limit the search to "systematic review". Also Cochrane Library, which is a database that focuses specifically on indexing evidence-based medicine, systematic reviews, etc. For instructions on how to access Library databases, consult the Searching the Literature section of this guide.
The following are frameworks that you can use to help formulate a clear and focused research question, which you can then use to convert into an effective search strategy for your review:
|PICO||for quantitative studies|
|P||Patient, Population or Problem|
|I||Intervention or Exposure|
|Lawani, M. A., Valéra, B., Fortier-Brochu, E., Légaré, F., Carmichael, P. H., Côté, L., ... Giguere, A. M. C. (2017). Five shared decision-making tools in 5 months: use of rapid reviews to develop decision boxes for seniors living with dementia and their caregivers. Systematic Reviews, 6(56), 1-12. doi:10.1186/s13643-017-0446-2.
|PICo||for qualitative studies|
Rathbone, J., Albarqouni, L., Bakhit, M., Beller, E., Byambasuren, O., Hoffmann, T., … Glasziou, P. (2017). Expediting citation screening using PICo-based title-only screening for identifying studies in scoping searches and rapid reviews. Systematic Reviews, 6(1), 1-7. doi:10.1186/s13643-017-0629-x.
|SPIDER||for qualitative and mixed methods research studies|
|PI||Phenomenon of Interest|
|Cooke, A., Smith, D., & Booth, A. (2012). Beyond PICO: The SPIDER Tool for Qualitative Evidence Synthesis. Qualitative Health Research, 22(10), 1435–1443. doi:10.1177/1049732312452938.|
|SPICE||for qualitative evidence|
|Harris, J. L. , Booth, A., Cargo, M., Hannes, K., Harden, A., Flemming, K., ... Noyes, J. (2018). Cochrane Qualitative and Implementation Methods Group guidance series—paper 2: methods for question formulation, searching, and protocol development for qualitative evidence synthesis, Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 97(4), 39-48. doi:10.1016/j.jclinepi.2017.10.023.|
The PRISMA Statement is a great starting point for any systematic literature review as it lays out the steps/tasks involved in an uncomplicated way. The PRISMA Statement consists of a checklist and flow diagram.
If you have used PRISMA in your systematic review, you must cite it. The PRISMA statement has been published in several journal articles, and PRISMA recommend that you cite via one of these, rather than the website directly. For more information on how to cite PRISMA, see here.