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Systematic Literature Review

Overview of Systematic Literature Review (SLR)

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What is a Systematic Literature Review?

A systematic review attempts to identify, appraise and synthesize all the empirical evidence that meets pre-specified eligibility criteria to answer a specific research question. (From:

Systematic Literature Reviews (SLR) originated in medicine and were developed in an effort to remove bias from the review process. 

In order to minimise bias, the review is done by a team, using a strict protocol or methodology.  This includes:

  • Clearly defined objectives or a focused research question, which doesn’t change
  • An agreed (stated) inclusion/exclusion criteria
  • An agreed comprehensive search strategy to collect information (which must include specialist sources)
  • A clear method for screening material

Unlike other types of reviews SLRs can be:

  • Repeated
  • Updated

SLRs are useful for:

  • Summarising data
  • Synthesising research in a particular field
  • Interpreting findings (risk assessment)
  • Identifying future research
  • Answering specific questions
  • Problem solving

You should select the appropriate reporting guidelines to ensure transparency and quality in the review process.  For example, Equator Network, and PRISMA

This is a short video on conducting systematic literature review.

The following video explains how a systematic review works.


Differences between Systematic Review and Literature Review

Kysh, Lynn (2013): Difference between a systematic review and a literature review. figshare. Poster.