“A Systematic Review attempts to collate all empirical evidence that fits pre-specified eligibility criteria to answer a specific research question. It uses explicit, systematic methods that are selected with a view to minimizing bias, thus providing reliable findings from which conclusions can be drawn and decisions made."
The key characteristics of a systematic review are:
Liberati, Allessandro, et al, “The PRISMA Statement for Reporting Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis of Studies that Evaluate Health Care Interventions: Explanation and Elaboration,” PLoS Med. 2009; 6(7): 1-28.
|1-2||Preparation of Protocol|
|3-8||Searches for published and unpublished studies|
|2-3||Pilot test of eligibility criteria|
|3||Pilot test of ‘Risk of bias’ assessment|
|3||Pilot test of data collection|
|5-11||Follow up of missing information|
|1-11||Preparation of review report|
|12-||Keeping the review up-to-date|
Source: Higgins JPT, Green S (editors). Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions Version 5.1.0 [updated March 2011]. The Cochrane Collaboration, 2011. Available from www.cochrane-handbook.org.
Adapted under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. from: YourHealthNet, "Navigating Effective Treatments With Systematic Reviews: An online toolkit that will help you understand and develop the skills to explore health research" developed and published by the Centre for Health Communication and Participation with support from the Australasian Cochrane Centre.