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Evidence Synthesis and Systematic Reviews

This guide will help you get started with your next evidence synthesis review

Systematic Reviews

Definition: A systematic review is a summary of research results (evidence) that uses explicit and reproducible methods to systematically search, critically appraise, and synthesize on a specific issue. It synthesizes the results of multiple primary studies related to each other by using strategies that reduce biases and errors.

When to use: If you want to identify, appraise, and synthesize all available research that is relevant to a particular question with reproduceable search methods.

Limitations: It requires extensive time and a team


Rapid Reviews

Definition: Rapid reviews are a form of evidence synthesis that may provide more timely information for decision making compared with standard systematic reviews

When to use: When you want to evaluate new or emerging research topics using some systematic review methods at a faster pace

Limitations: It is not as rigorous or as thorough as a systematic review and therefore may be more likely to be biased


Scoping Reviews

Definition: Scoping reviews are often used to categorize or group existing literature in a given field in terms of its nature, features, and volume.

When to use: Label body of literature with relevance to time, location (e.g. country or context), source (e.g. peer-reviewed or grey literature), and origin (e.g. healthcare discipline or academic field) It also is used to clarify working definitions and conceptual boundaries of a topic or field or to identify gaps in existing literature/research

Limitations: More citations to screen and takes as long or longer than a systematic review.  Larger teams may be required because of the larger volumes of literature.  Different screening criteria and process than a systematic review