Systematic reviews are conducted to answer specific research questions and use transparent and pre-determined scientific methods to identify, select, and synthesize findings from similar but separate studies.
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STRENGTHS + WEAKNESSES
Systematic reviews have a rigorous and clear process to identify, critically appraise, and distill information from individual studies to provide recommendations to inform future practice
Systematic reviews aim to answer a well-defined question, which helps readers identify if the content is applicable to their situation or context
Clear guidance exists for the conduct and reporting of systematic reviews, which facilitates the review process, decreases bias, and increases research transparency and reproducibility
Narrow focus of systematic reviews may not capture a comprehensive overview of a topic (narrative or scoping reviews may be better approaches)
Systematic reviews do not answer questions about how/why an intervention does or does not work (realist reviews may be a better approach)
Systematic reviews include primary studies and do not cover emerging topics published as commentaries or perspectives articles
Systematic review require a significant body of evidence about a topic in order to be conducted
Systematic reviews are a major undertaking that are resource and time intensive (i.e., 6 months to 2 years to conduct)
LAUREN MAGGIO, PhD
Lauren Maggio, PhD, is a professor of medicine and health professions education at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU). Dr. Maggio is also the Associate of Research at the USU Center for Health Professions Education. Her research examines the creation, dissemination, and utilization of research, with a focus on evidence based medicine, knowledge syntheses, and scholarly communication.
ANITA SAMUEL, PhD
Anita Samuel, Ph.D., is Assistant Director of Distance Learning and Assistant Professor in the Center for Health Professions Education at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland. She received her doctorate in Adult and Continuing Education from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her expertise is online and adult learning and she teaches courses on distance learning, instructional technology, and organizational change.
ELIZABETH STELLRECHT, MLS
Elizabeth Stellrecht, MLS, is an associate librarian in the University Libraries at the University at Buffalo where she is the Head of Health Sciences Library Services. Liz also serves as the liaison librarian to the School of Dental Medicine and assists faculty, staff, and students with their research needs. Her research explores the ways librarians collaborate with clinicians, faculty, and students in the evidence-based practice process.