Systematic reviews aim to identify and analyze “all” (as much as possible) existing knowledge on a narrow, specific research question by searching broadly and comprehensively, applying pre-determined inclusion/exclusion criteria, evaluating quality of study methods and synthesizing their findings to provide generalizable evidence on the research question.
Your questions to the following questions can help you decide if a systematic review is appropriate and will be a useful format for your investigation of a research question.
1. What is your purpose for this project? What do you hope to accomplish? Some possible purposes:
2. How much research already exists on this topic?
3. What kind of research do you expect to find on your topic? In what types of publications?
4. When do you expect/need to have results ready to submit for presentation/publication/grade/degree?
5. On a daily/weekly basis, how much time do you realistically expect to have available for reviewing abstracts and full-texts, extracting data, evaluating study quality and writing in the above time frame?
6. How many people will be working on reviewing abstracts & full text, data mining and writing of this paper?
How much time will these people have available to work on the project within the proposed time frame?
7. What plans do you have for contingencies in the event one or more study team members cannot complete their portion of the work in the time frame?