"'Evidence synthesis' refers to the process of bringing together information from a range of sources and disciplines to inform debates and decisions on specific issues. Decision-making and public debate are best served if policymakers have access to the best current evidence on an issue." Systematic Reviews and published protocols are types of evidence synthesis that can be conducted for this and many other purposes.
This guide is designed to help the user choose the type of review, protocol, reporting and evidence gathering that will fulfill their research question. We recommend contacting one of the librarians at the earliest stage for assistance with any evidence sythesis project.
(Royal Society 2018, https://royalsociety.org/topics-policy/projects/evidence-synthesis)
According to the Cochrane Handbook, section 1.2.2, "a systematic review attempts to collate all empirical evidence that fits pre-specified eligibility criteria in order to answer a specific research question."
The key characteristics of a systematic review are:
Source: Green, S., Higgins, J.P.T., Alderson, P., Clarke, M., Mulrow, C.D., Oxman, A.D. (2008). Chapter 1: Introduction. In: Higgins, J.P.T., Green, S. (Eds.), Cochrane handbook for systematic reviews of interventions. The Cochrane Collaboration.
A systematic review is a lengthy process. Here is a general timeline for conducting a systematic review:
|1-2||Preparation of protocol|
|3-8||Searches for published and unpublished studies|
|2-3||Pilot test of eligibility criteria|
|3||Pilot test of 'Risk of bias' assessment|
|3||Pilot test of data collection|
|5-11||Follow up of missing information|
|1-11||Preparation of review report|
|12-||Keeping the review up to date|
Source: Green, S. and Higgins, J.P. (2008). Preparing a cochrane review. In J.P. Higgins and S. Green (eds.), Cochrane handbook for systematic reviews of interventions. https://doi.org/10.1002/9780470712184.ch2