Systematic Review: A brief run-through

Systematic reviews have gained unprecedented popularity in recent decades. Even so, most scholars still struggle to comprehend the complex terminologies related to systematic reviews. Generally considered secondary research, review articles summarize primary research data collected and analyzed by other researchers. A summary of previous research helps attain a firm grasp of a specific topic, track current developments, and provide helpful insights for future research.

What Is Systematic Review?

While reviews vary considerably, owing to the quantity and quality of data included, systematic reviews are organized and methodical, like their namesake. Systematic reviews only include streamlined primary research data that fit pre-specified eligibility criteria for exploring a distinct research question. Despite the borderline similarity, extensions, and revisions along a consistent outline can group systematic reviews into five major categories:

  1. Scoping reviews

The most preliminary evaluation of the extent of available literature (including in-

progress research) comprises scoping reviews. This review attempts an overview of the literature to illuminate existing concepts and detect lacunae in the knowledge base. The data obtained is typically presented in a tabular form with sparse narrative statements. Though this review is limited by the absence of regulatory guidelines and quality assessments, conducting a scoping review is invariably the first step in formulating a research question.

  1. Rapid Reviews

Rapid reviews assess the established knowledge base of a policy or practice issue through systematic review methodologies. In contrast to standard reviews, these reviews are undertaken under strict time constraints to provide evidence and information timely for prompt decision-making. Several legitimate methods are employed to shorten the time required to conduct this review, such as applying broad searches and extracting only crucial points, reviewing only existing reviews, and limiting grey literature. However, the downside of these reviews is the increased risk of potential bias due to the short timespan and rapid proceedings.

  1. Narrative Reviews

Otherwise known as literature reviews, narrative reviews presents a descriptive account of existing scholarly literature on a specific topic instead of a statistical analysis. Conducting a literature review is advantageous for young scholars and scientists as it helps them gather knowledge in the context of their research hypothesis and ensure their research is original. Acknowledging the strengths and shortcomings of previous research helps implement current research and recommend future research aspects.

  1. Meta-analysis

A step ahead of systematic reviews, a meta-analysis employs statistical methods to combine available, relevant studies to deduce a more comprehensive conclusion. Simply put, data from multiple quantitative studies on the same subject are pooled and analyzed statistically to obtain a general idea about or to determine a particular trend in a specific topic.

  1. Mixed method/ mixed studies

Within the context of reviews, mixed studies imply combining two or more review approaches. The prime component of a mixed review is typically a literature review or a systematic review. A study comprising both qualitative and quantitative research better conceptualizes a multidisciplinary topic. It also provides a more suitable groundwork for complex decision-making.

It is essential to know different types of reviews to understand which one suits your research purpose the best. Was this blog helpful? Go to for more blogs. You can mail us your queries at

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