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Systematic Reviews in the Social Sciences

What is a Systematic Review?

"A systematic review attempts to collate all empirical evidence that fits pre-specified eligibility criteria in order to answer a specific research question.  It  uses explicit, systematic methods that are selected with a view to minimizing bias, thus providing more reliable findings from which conclusions can be drawn and decisions made (Antman 1992, Oxman 1993). The key characteristics of a systematic review are:

  • a clearly stated set of objectives with pre-defined eligibility criteria for studies;

  • an explicit, reproducible methodology;

  • a systematic search that attempts to identify all studies that would meet the eligibility criteria;

  • an assessment of the validity of the findings of the included studies, for example through the assessment of risk of bias; and

  • a systematic presentation, and synthesis, of the characteristics and findings of the included studies".

Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions. (March 2011)

(Original author, Meredith Kirkpatrick, 2021)

Difference Between a Systematic Review and a Literature Review

Systematic vs Literature Table

Kysh, Lynn (2013): Difference between a systematic review and a literature review. Figshare.