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PAH Library and Knowledge Centre: Systematic Reviews

Systematic review and meta-analysis (SRMA) is a type of literature review that collects and critically analyzes multiple research studies or papers. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in evidence-based medicine offer scientific data, and a review of existing studies is often quicker and cheaper than embarking on a new study. A research and analysis methodology is selected, before one or more SRMA questions are formulated.

Select and use a standardized methodology

Pick your type of SRMA, based on where you plan to publish ..... Cochrane requirements for SRMAs tend to be the most prescriptive/strict and are pitched at medicine. JBI are a bit less strict and inclusive of nursing. Campbell collective is more for the social, behavioral, and educational sciences. PRISMA is the basic level but often all that is required by specialist journals.

Learn more about database search methods & review

More info....


SRMA process

SRMA VS. Literature Review

Systematic Review Vs. Literature Review: Which is right for you?

  Systematic Review Literature Review
Function Reduces gaps in knowledge, literature and science. Answers questions through comparison of evidence. Eliminate bias. Identifies gaps in knowledge, literature and science. Poses questions through review of evidence. Provide summary.
Value Provides best evidence (EBM/EBP) for the clinical selection of tests, treatments and therapies. Provides evidence for why further study should be undertaken, to increase (EBM).
Research Must follow a published research methodology, i.e. Cochrane/PRISMA/JBI. Information retrieved from databases using explicit/repeatable search algorithm. Aiming to retrieve ALL relevant studies.150+ papers/studies screened. Information retrieved using general research methods. Usually 10-20+ papers/studies evaluated, depending on purpose of review.
Analysis  Quantitative and comparative analysis. Comparative tables and/or Forest plot. Qualitative and critical analysis. Authors critical discussion and conclusion.
Question Very specific question, ideally in PICO format. e.g. Does Drug Z, treat condition X, with minimal side effects? Broader question often with sub-themes. e.g. Is Drug Z effective, cost-effective, and safe?
Time Commitment Less if it's comparative-review/background for publication of research results, more if it's a stand-alone/Cochrane Review. Less if it's a discussion article for a specialist journal, more if it's a scoping-review for a PhD thesis.
Best for Answering a very specific scientific question. Furthering knowledge in a field/s, adding to the body of evidence. Putting scientific information in context. Interdisciplinary collaboration, policy development, and education.
Research assistance, subject guides, and useful resources compiled by your friendly librarians. Know what we know - find it in our Specialty Guides!