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Systematic Reviews and Other Expert Reviews

#systematicreviews #sysrev

Expert Methodologies and Review Types

Review Methodologies and Typologies

These articles outline different approaches to typology and methodology for answering different types of clinical and non-clinical questions.

  • Akl, E. A., Haddaway, N., Rada, G., & Lotfi, T. (2020). Evidence synthesis 2.0: when systematic, scoping, rapid, living, and overviews of reviews come together. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 123, 162–165.
  • Munn, Z., Peters, M., Stern, C., Tufanaru, C., McArthur, A., & Aromataris, E. (2018). Systematic review or scoping review? Guidance for authors when choosing between a systematic or scoping review approach. BMC medical research methodology, 18(1), 143.
  • Munn, Z., Stern, C., Aromataris, E., Lockwood, C., & Jordan, Z. (2018). What kind of systematic review should I conduct? A proposed typology and guidance for systematic reviewers in the medical and health sciences. BMC medical research methodology, 18(1), 5.
  • Grant, M. J., & Booth, A. (2009). A typology of reviews: an analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies. Health Information & Libraries Journal, 26(2), 91-108.
Systematic Review

A systematic review uses systematic and explicit methods to identify, select, and critically appraise relevant research and to collect and analyze data from included studies. It traditionally brings together evidence from the quantitative literature to answer questions on the effectiveness of a specific intervention for a particular condition.

  • Higgins J. P. T., Thomas J., Chandler J., Cumpston M., Li T., Page M. J., & Welch V. A. (editors). (2021) Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions version 6.2 (updated February 2021). Cochrane. Available from
Integrative Review

An integrative review critiques and synthesizes the literature on a topic in an integrated way to generate new frameworks or perspectives on the topic. It allows for the inclusion of several study designs (e.g., experimental/non-experimental, theoretical studies/empirical literature). It is also known as a “comprehensive review” or a “critical overview.”

Scoping Review

A scoping review maps the body of literature on a topic (often a broad topic) and identifies key concepts and research gaps. It may include data from any type of evidence and research methodology. It can be used as a standalone project or as a preliminary step to a systematic review.

  • Peters, M. D. J., Marnie, C., Tricco, A. C., Pollock, D., Munn, Z., Alexander, L., McInerney, P., Godfrey, C. M., & Khalil, H. (2020). Updated methodological guidance for the conduct of scoping reviews. JBI Evidence Synthesis, 18(10), 2119-2126.

  • Tricco, A. C., Lillie, E., Zarin, W., O'Brien, K. K., Colquhoun, H., Levac, D., Moher, D., Peters, M .D. J., Horsley, T., Weeks, L., Hempel, S., Akl, E. A., Chang, C., McGowan, J., Stewart, L., Hartling, L., Aldcroft, A., Wilson, M. G., Garritty, C., Lewin, S., Godfrey, C. M., Macdonald, M. T., Langlois, E. V., Soares-Weiser, K., Moriarty, J., Clifford, T., Tunçalp Ö., & Straus, S. E. (2018). PRISMA extension for scoping reviews (PRISMA-ScR): checklist and explanation. Annals of internal medicine, 169(7), 467-473. Link in Annals of Internal Medicine, Link in Equator

  • Pham, M. T., Rajić, A., Greig, J. D., Sargeant, J. M., Papadopoulos, A., & McEwen, S. A. (2014). A scoping review of scoping reviews: advancing the approach and enhancing the consistency. Research Synthesis Methods, 5(4), 371–385.
  • Arksey, H., & O’Malley, L. (2005). Scoping studies: towards a methodological framework. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 8(1), 19–32.
Rapid Review

A rapid review provides a rapid synthesis of knowledge about a policy or clinical practice issue and attempts to inform an evidence-based decision as soon as possible. It follows all of the stages of a systematic knowledge synthesis but may modify a stage to shorten the timescale.

  • Khangura, S., Konnyu, K., Cushman, R., Grimshaw, J., & Moher, D. (2012). Evidence summaries: the evolution of a rapid review approach. Systematic Reviews, 1, 10.
Realist Review

A realist review looks to identify and explain social interventions or programs and the interactions between context, mechanisms, and outcomes for policy makers. It seeks to answer the question, “What works, for whom, in what circumstances?” It embraces multiple methods (both qualitative and quantitative).

  • Pawson, R., Greenhalgh, T., Harvey, G., & Walshe, K. (2005). Realist review—a new method of systematic review designed for complex policy interventions. Journal of Health Services Research & Policy, 10 Suppl1, 21–34.
Overview of Reviews (Umbrella Review)

An overview of reviews, or umbrella review, summarizes the evidence from multiple research syntheses into one accessible and usable document. It is based on high-quality, reliable systematic reviews on a specific health problem or topic, and it explores the consistency of findings across reviews

  • Aromataris, E., Fernandez, R., Godfrey, C. M., Holly, C., Khalil, H., & Tungpunkom, P. (2015). Summarizing systematic reviews: methodological development, conduct and reporting of an umbrella review approach. International Journal of Evidence-Based Healthcare, 13(3), 132–140.