A systematic review is a scientific study of all available evidence on a certain topic. It requires the most exhaustive literature search possible, not only in published literature, but also in gray literature. It may also require searches in disciplines outside the researchers primary area of study.
Anybody writing a systematic literature review should be familiar with the PRISMA statement. The PRISMA Statement is a document that consists of a 27-item checklist and a flow diagram. It is designed to guide authors on how to develop a systematic review and what to include when writing the review.
A protocol will include:
The essence of a systematic review lies in being systematic. A systematic review involves detailed scrutiny and analysis of a huge mass of literature. To ensure that your work is efficient and effective, you should follow a clear process:
1. Develop a research question
2. Define inclusion and exclusion criteria
3. Locate studies
4. Select studies
5. Assess study quality
6. Extract data
7. Analyze and present results
8. Interpret results
9. Update the review as needed
It is helpful to make notes at each stage. This will make it easier for you to write the review article.
A systematic review article follows the same structure as that of an original research article. It typically includes a title, abstract, introduction, methods, results, discussion, and references.
Title: The title should accurately reflect the topic under review. Typically, the words “a systematic review” are a part of the title to make the nature of the study clear.
Abstract: A systematic review usually has a structured Abstract, with a short paragraph devoted to each of the following: background, methods, results, and conclusion.
Introduction: The Introduction summarizes the topic and explains why the systematic review was conducted. There might have been gaps in the existing knowledge or a disagreement in the literature that necessitated a review. The introduction should also state the purpose and aims of the review.
Methods: The Methods section is the most crucial part of a systematic review article. The methodology followed should be explained clearly and logically. The following components should be discussed in detail:
Results: The Results section should also be explained logically. You can begin by describing the search results, and then move on to the study range and characteristics, study quality, and finally discuss the effect of the intervention on the outcome.
Discussion: The Discussion should summarize the main findings from the review and then move on to discuss the limitations of the study and the reliability of the results. Finally, the strengths and weaknesses of the review should be discussed, and implications for current practice suggested.
References: The References section of a systematic review article usually contains an extensive number of references. You have to be very careful and ensure that you do not miss out on a single one. You can consider using reference management software to help you tackle the references effectively.
Enter your manuscript's title and abstract and other requested information and these systems will identify journals that are best suited for publishing. Each resource provides journal information and additional information such as impact factors, publishing model, time to publication, etc.
These tools search the journals of the individual publisher.