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What is the difference between a systematic review and a literature review?
- Systematic reviews and literature reviews are commonly confused.
- The main difference between the two is that systematic reviews answer a focused question whereas literature reviews contextualize a topic.
- High-level overview of primary research on a focused question that identifies, selects, synthesizes, and appraises all high quality research evidence relevant to that question.
- Answer a focused clinical question
- Eliminate bias
- Pre-scientific eligibility criteria
- Systematic search strategy
- Assessment of the validity of findings
- Interpretation and presentation of results
- Reference list
- Number of Authors
- Months to years
- Average eighteen months
- Thorough knowledge of topic
- Perform searches of all relevant databases
- Statistical analysis resources (for meta-analysis)
- Connects practicing clinicians to high quality evidence
- Supports evidence-based practice
- Qualitatively summarizes evidence on a topic using informal or subjective methods to collect and interpret studies.
- Provide summary or overview of topic
- Can be a general topic or specific question
- Reference List
- Number of Authors
- Understanding of topic
- Perform searches of one or more databases
- Provides summary of literature on a topic
Kysh, Lynn (2013): Difference between a systematic review and a literature review. Available at: https://figshare.com/articles/Difference_between_a_systematic_review_and_a_literature_review/766364
How do I prepare for a systematic review?
Check the following recourses to ensure a systematic review does not already exist or is currently in progress on your topic.
How do I conduct a systematic reviews?
- Have a clear and focused question.
- Identify synonyms and related terms (relevant concepts, terminology, spelling differences, colloquialisms, etc.)
- Use truncation to ensure you get all the variations of the terms (i.e. Canad: -a, -ian).
- Identify your search limits and criteria.
- Document your search:
- Search terms and strings
- Number of results for each search
- Date of the search
- Filter usage (date, language, etc.)
Should I use a citation manager for my systematic review?
- Yes! Managing sources is instrumental to a successfully organized systematic review process and product.
- Especially when sifting through thousands of citations, citation management is time efficient.
- Systematic Review guidelines require you to track what you search, what you find, document what you keep and discard and the rationale as to why you made you those choices.
- Citation management software allows you to keep track of everything in one place.
- Export your citation records to a citation management tool. Make sure to check for duplicate records.
- Some software will allow you to share your citations with other, which is beneficial if you are working on a systematic review with other scholars.
- Some recommended citation management software include: Zotero, Mendeley and EndNote Web.
- For more information and guidance of citation software, visit the University of Guelph’s Managing Your Sources Topic Guide.
Guides for conducting a systematic review
Resources to help with writing a literature review