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Systematic Reviews  

This guide provides resources for finding and writing systematic reviews.
Last Updated: Mar 27, 2014 URL: http://guides.lib.uiowa.edu/systematicreviews Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Key Resources

  • PRISMA
    Preferred Reporting Items of Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses.
  • Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions
    The Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions (the Handbook) provides guidance to authors for the preparation of Cochrane Intervention reviews (including Cochrane Overviews of reviews).
  • Cochrane Library  Icon
    The Cochrane Library contains high-quality, independent evidence to inform healthcare decision-making. It includes reliable evidence from Cochrane and other systematic reviews, clinical trials, and more. Cochrane reviews bring you the combined results of the world's best medical research studies, and are recognised as the gold standard in evidence-based healthcare.
 

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           3 – 8                   Searches for published and unpublished studies.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.

 

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