Systematic reviews What is a systematic review? A systematic review is a literature overview that attempts to answer a well-defined question in a rigorous way. A critical appraisal of the included studies is also an important part of a systematic review. Rigorous systematic reviews are transparent with regard to its methods, thus allowing the reader to form an opinion on both the quality of the evidence presented and the quality of the review itself.
Tweet Share In this blog introduced by Rufaro Ndokera, trainees Eoin and David talk about their experiences of systematic review writing. When I first applied for the job of Cochrane UK fellow, I knew that writing a review was going to be part of the role.
I was excited for it and had incidentally been looking at updating the review I ended up working on many months before applying for the fellowship. However, I had also underestimated how much I would learn and the inspiring people I would meet along the way.
If you are reading this blog, I hope it is because you are a trainee interested in getting involved with the work of Cochrane. Maybe you have been considering how to get involved? And maybe you have decided to write a Cochrane review.
If so, good on you, the first step is taken. In this blog, we hear from 2 trainees who have gone down the route of writing a review, who tell us about their experiences so far. Here, he talks about his experience so far at the beginning of his journey in systematic review writing and how he came to be involved: I had been ranting to one of the consultants in our department about the importance of a proper evidence base and bemoaning the lack of high quality reviews to refer to when treating our patients that morning.
As it turns out, many doctors in our department had been involved in reviews in the past, and not one of them had a beard. A short email to the Cochrane group in question and suddenly I was being guided through the process with simple instructions and walking a well-trodden path.
The plan — find some likeminded individuals, plan out the workload, assign tasks, create a timetable, find somebody to help with stats, step by step by step. Cochrane were on hand at every stage to advise and support us. We were initially asked to submit some ideas for reviews, but in the end the editorial board allocated us a topic in need of updating.
This was, with hindsight, probably a gentler introduction to the world of systematic reviews than starting completely from scratch next time…. Right now, after a few painless meetings and email threads, we have our submission under review at Cochrane HQ and are poised to begin data collection.
I approached CIDG several months in advance to see if they had a vacancy for an author on a review team, and I was asked to join a team planning a review on the effect of mobile phone interventions to improve adherence to HIV and anti-TB medications.
This was on condition that I could scope out the study question and do lots of background reading on the topic to help best frame the question, a considerable amount of work before my placement even began.
All Cochrane reviews must start with a peer reviewed protocol, which are published in the Cochrane Library. I spent the first few months of the placement finalising this before moving onto the review itself.
But I am still working on the review now, in my own time, a year later. This is unsurprising given the average review takes at least 12 months to complete, and ours has a few more studies to include than is typical. However, it can be a great experience, and if you are game, one definitely worth exploring.
This is just the experience of 2 trainees but I am sure there are many more of you out there, working clinically and reviewing on the side, or even those who may be writing a review as part of an academic job. If you are involved with Cochrane, however big full reviewor small testing the waters via Cochrane Crowd we would like to hear your story for a future blog.
Follow us at CochraneTraineesEoin eoinrenalDavid drdjrobs and myself NdokeraR would all love to hear from you on twitter and do subscribe to our newsletter at http:have the intention to write a Cochrane systematic review, i.e. have a research question but did not contact any review group yet; have registered a title of a Cochrane review and would like .
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Writing a Systematic Literature Write a brief protocol according to guidelines for systematic reviews (e.g. PRISMA or Cochrane) 3.
Talk with a librarian once you have a draft protocol 4. Search literature databases using agreed MeSH headings and key words. The Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions is the official guide that describes in detail the process of preparing and maintaining Cochrane systematic reviews on the effects of healthcare interventions.
The current complete version of the Handbook is (updated March ), edited by Julian Higgins and Sally Green. Systematic reviews are regarded as the best source of research evidence. A systematic review is a rigorous review of existing literature that addresses a clearly formulated question.
This article aims to guide you on the different kinds of systematic review, the standard procedures to be followed, and the best approach to conducting and writing a systematic review.
Although increasingly popular, systematic review has engendered a critique of the claims made for it as a more objective method for summing up research findings than other kinds of reviews.
An alternative understanding of systematic review is as a highly subjective, albeit disciplined, engagement.