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Systematic Reviews

What is a systematic review?

A systematic review (SR) attempts to collate all empirical evidence to answer a specific research question. It minimizes bias by using a predefined protocol.

Key Features: 

  • clearly defined, answerable question with inclusion and exclusion criteria;
  • rigorous, systematic search of literature;
  • two screening phases conducted by at least two independent screeners
  • data extraction and management;
  • analysis and interpretation of results;
  • risk of bias assessment of included studies;
  • published report

SR is a form of original (primary) research. In an SR, the "research subjects" are individual studies. These studies are selected and collated to answer a research question. SRs began in clinical medicine, and the methodology has been adapted for other fields.


What are the steps in a systematic review?

WKU Libraries' subject specialists can assist with search strategy, and provide guidance and resources on the systematic review process.