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Stony Brook University

Systematic Review Guide

This guide covers all of the information you need to know in order to prepare for and conduct a systematic review.

Types of Reviews

Systematic Review: A systematic review uses systematic and explicit methods to identify, select, and critically appraise relevant research and to collect and analyze data from included studies.  It traditionally brings together evidence from the quantitative literature to answer questions on the effectiveness of a specific intervention for a particular condition. (Cochrane)

Scoping Review:  (See our Scoping Review GuideScoping reviews are a "preliminary assessment of potential size and scope of available research literature.  Aims to identify nature and extent of research evidence (usually including ongoing research)." Grant and Booth (2009).  Scoping Reviews are best: When a body of literature has not yet been comprehensively reviewed, or exhibits a large, complex, or heterogeneous nature not amenable to a more precise systematic review. They are used to map existing literature in terms of nature, features, and volume. Scoping reviews clarify working definitions and conceptual boundaries of a topic or field. and identify gaps in existing literature/research. (Peters M, Godfrey C, Khalil H, et al)

Meta-Analysis: A meta-analysis uses a technique that statistically combines the results of quantitative studies to provide a more precise effect of the results. Aims for exhaustive searching. (Duke University)

Rapid Review: Rapid reviews are a form of evidence synthesis that may provide more timely information for decision making compared with standard systematic reviews.  A rapid review speeds up the systematic review process by omitting stages of the systematic review making it less rigorous. Rapid reviews would be most appropriate for: new or emerging research topics, updates of previous reviews, critical topics, to assess what is already known about a policy or practice using some systematic review methods. (AHRQ)

Mixed Methods: A  comprehensive syntheses of two or more types of data (e.g. quantitative and qualitative) are conducted and then aggregated into a final, combined synthesis or a qualitative and quantitative data are combined and synthesized in a single primary synthesis. (The Joanna Briggs Institute 2014 Reviewers Manual)

Umbrella Review: A cluster of existing systematic reviews on a shared topic. They are also known as an overview of reviews and focus on a broad condition or problem for which there are two or more potential interventions and highlights reviews that address these potential interventions and their results. (Grant & Booth)

There are a wide variety of different types of reviews. For an excellent summary of 14 review types, see Grant MJ, Booth A. A typology of reviews: an analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies. Health Info Libr J. 2009 Jun;26(2):91-108. PMID: 19490148.


Systematic vs. Scoping Review

See Stony Brook University Libraries' Scoping Review Guide