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Systematic Reviews: Types of Reviews

Systematic Reviews and Other Types of Reviews

"Few review types possess prescribed and explicit methodologies.....this typology provides a valuable reference point for those commissioning, conducting, supporting, or interpreting reviews.”
Grant MJ, Booth A. A typology of reviews: an analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies. Health Info Libr J. 2009 Jun;26(2):91-108

Comparing systematic reviews to other types of reviews shows a spectrum from subjective to objective, from broad to narrow question, and from methods not clearly stated to methods with clear detail. The chart below highlights several of the main review types on this spectrum. 

Review Spectrum

Reproduced with permission of Margaret Foster of Texas A&M University.

Review Types

NARRATIVE REVIEW:  Creates a broad perspective on a topic (like a textbook chapter). May not evaluate quality of evidence. Useful in tracing concept development.  Methodology not standardized.  Sometimes called a literature review.  Collins JA, Fauser B.  Balancing the strengths of systematic and narrative reviews.  Hum Reprod Update, 2005; 11: 103-4.

SCOPING REVIEW:   Aims to rapidly "map" the size and scope of relevant research in a field of interest, and to identify gaps and research needs.  Quality of existing evidence may be described, but there is no formal quality appraisal process. Arksey H, O'Maley L. Scoping studies:  towards a methodological framework.  Int J Social Res Methodology 2005; 8:19-32.  

SYSTEMATIC REVIEW:  Summarises the results of available carefully designed healthcare studies (controlled trials) and provides a high level of evidence on the effectiveness of healthcare interventions. Cochrane Consumer Network. What is a Systematic Review?

RAPID REVIEW  adheres to accepted SR methods in a very short timeframe.  Useful to present emerging research or critical topics.   Cochrane Rapid Reviews Methods Group  

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