What is a Systematic Literature Review?
Systematic reviews (SRs) identify, collate, and systematically summarize empirical
evidence from two or more primary research studies
SRs attempt to minimize bias/error in the review process – Use systematic, empirical
process that values transparency
Based on protocols that outline explicit ex/inclusion criteria – Document transparent
Can synthesize findings qualitatively or quantitatively (via meta- analysis)
(Campbell Collaborate, 2014)
Key differences between a Systematic Literature Review and a Literature Review
Research can be either primary/empirical research or secondary/desk based research.
Primary research usually involves gathering data directly from research subjects and
requires ethical approval. Secondary research involves gathering data that already exists
through desk review and as a result of not interacting directly with participants or
generating new data does not require ethical approval. A systematic literature review
examines data and findings of other authors relative to a specified research question or
questions. A systematic literature review is just one research methodology that can be used
to do this. The essential difference between a literature review and a systematic literature
review is that a literature review provides evidence from a high level summary in the fields
connected to a research question whereas a systematic literature review begins with an
intentional and purposeful selection of data including types of information to be included in
the review including policy documents, journal articles, book chapters, blogs and
publications related to the research questions. The link below to a short video on Systematic
Literature Reviews offers a helpful overview of the key differences.
Systematic Literature Reviews Key Features
Stage Key Features
Problem Formulation Clarify your Research Questions- set explicit
Data Collection Literature Search using selected databases
Data evaluation Assessing study inclusion/exclusioninformation gathering from the studyinformation coding
Data analysis and interpretation Analysis and interpretation of data,
integrating the effect results, interpreting
Final write-up stages Exploration of bias (publication bias and
related bias). Recommendations.