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Shimberg Health Sciences Library & Florida Blue Health Knowledge Exchange

Evidence Synthesis / Systematic Reviews

Should you do a Systematic Review? Go. There has not been a recent high quality SR on the same topic. You have at least a year to finish the project. You have a team of at least 3 people and at least one member has experience with SR methodology. You have a narrowly focused question. Stop. There has been a recent high quality SR on the same topic.You have less than a year to complete the project.You are a single researcher or your team does not have any members experienced in SR methodology. You have a broad question or multiple questions.

What Review is Right for You?

Sometimes a SR may not be the right choice for your research topic, your experience level, or your project requirements. Other review types may fit your question better. 

Flowchart of the process to determine the evidence synthesis type best suited to your research question. Do you want to gather all the available evidence on a particular research topic AND have 3+ people to work on the review. If NO, select literature/narrative review. If YES, do you have at least 12 months to devote to the project? If NO, select rapid review. If YES, do you have a broad topic or multiple research questions? If YES, select scoping review. If NO, do you want to review other published systematic reviews on your topic? If YES, select umbrella review. If NO, Will you use statistical methods to objectively evaluate, synthesize, and summarize results? If NO, select systematic review. If YES, are the studies quantitative? If YES, select meta-analysis. If NO, select meta-synthesis.