Systematic Reviews: Definitions

This guide provides resources for finding and writing systematic reviews.

Key Resources

What is a Systematic Review?

Systematic Review: a high-level overview of primary research on a particular research question that tries to identify, select, synthesize and appraise all high quality research evidence relevant to that question in order to answer it. – Definition from Cochrane Collaboration http://www.cochrane.org/about-us/evidence-based-health-care

 Meta-Analysis: a quantitative statistical analysis of several separate but similar experiments or studies in order to test the pooled data for statistical significance [often found within systematic reviews, but not the same]. – Definition from www.merriam-Webster.com   

 All meta-analyses should be part of a systematic review, but not all systematic reviews will include a meta-analysis.

Typical Timeline for a Systematic Review

Estimated timeline for completing a Cochrane systematic review

         

          Month                   Activity

           1 – 2                   Preparation of protocol.

           3 – 8                   Searches for published and unpublished studies.

           2 – 3                   Pilot test of eligibility criteria.

           3 – 8                   Inclusion assessments.

           3                        Pilot test of ‘Risk of bias’ assessment.

           3 – 10                 Validity assessments.

           3                        Pilot test of data collection.

           3 – 10                 Data collection.

           3 – 10                 Data entry.

           5 – 11                 Follow up of missing information.

           8 – 10                 Analysis.

           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. Courtesy of the University of Maryland HS/HSL.

Get More Help

Have a general library question?

Contact the Hardin Library reference desk

Phone:
319-335-9151
Email: lib-hardin@uiowa.edu