The Importance of Methodological Rigour in Conducting Systematic Literature Reviews!

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A thorough and organised research process known as a systematic literature review is used to locate, evaluate, and summarise all accessible data on a particular study issue or subject. It involves searching multiple databases and other literature sources, such as journals, conference proceedings, and grey literature and then systematically evaluating and synthesising the findings from the selected studies. A systematic literature review is a process that includes defining the research question or topic, creating inclusion and exclusion criteria, performing a thorough search of the literature, screening and selecting pertinent studies, evaluating the quality of the included studies, extracting data from the selected studies, and synthesising the results to draw conclusions and suggest areas for further research.

What Is the Significance of a Systematic Literature Review?

Systematic literature reviews (SLRs) are essential in providing a comprehensive and unbiased summary of the available research on a specific topic. They are crucial in evidence-based decision-making in various fields, such as healthcare, education, and social sciences. SLRs use a rigorous methodology to identify, evaluate, and synthesise relevant studies from various sources, including grey literature, databases and reference lists. This process helps to minimise bias and ensure that the findings are reliable and valid. The significance of SLRs lies in their ability to provide an up-to-date, evidence-based assessment of the current state of knowledge on a particular topic, which can inform policy, practice, and future research directions. Additionally, SLRs can identify gaps in the literature, which can guide researchers in designing new studies to address unanswered questions.

How does a systematic literature review differ from a standard literature review?

  • The foremost contrast between a systematic review and a literature review is that the former offers a summary or overview of a subject. The latter, however, explicitly addresses a healthcare-related issue.
  • The fact that a literature review imparts a synopsis of the literature on the subject differs from a systematic review in another critical way. A systematic review, on the other hand, provides high-quality data that supports evidence-based practice.
  • A systematic review offers a question specifically defined, whereas a literature review offers a query with a broad subject or a specific enquiry.
  • Additionally, although systematic reviews are used in the biomedical and healthcare industries, literature reviews are still used in disciplines within the social sciences.
  • A literature review also helps pinpoint gaps between the current study and earlier studies. A systematic review, however, does not help identify the gaps between the most recent study and earlier research findings.

What Are the Steps Involved in a Systematic Literature Review?

Step 1: Developing Question Related to the Review

Before initiating the review process, it is essential to formulate a set of precise, concise, and well-organized questions that address the relevant issues. Alterations to the review protocol are only permissible once the review questions have been formulated if it becomes evident that there are more precise ways to define the populations, interventions, outcomes, or study designs.

Step 2: Finding Pertinent Tasks

The study needs to be carefully examined. Different printed and online materials should be researched, regardless of language. The intended study selection criteria should directly precede the evaluation queries. The justifications for adding and eliminating must be recorded.

Step 3: Assessing the Research’s Calibre

The study’s calibre must be considered at every level of the review procedure.
  • Step 1 – Create your research questions
  • Step 2 – Choose the criteria that will guide your selection of studies. Utilize design-specific quality checklists and essential principles of critical appraisal to conduct a comprehensive quality assessment of a small number of studies.
  • Step 3 – We will assess variability using these thorough quality assessments and determine whether meta-analysis is necessary.
  • Step 4 – They also support making recommendations for future research and assessing the reliability of results.

Step 4: Condensing the Data

Data synthesis involves tabulating the characteristics, standards, and outcomes of research as well as employing statistical methods to compare studies and integrate their effects. (meta-analysis). Planning should go into the research of heterogeneity and its causes. Additionally, in the absence of a thorough meta-analysis, a subgroup meta-analysis may be possible.

Step 5: Elucidating the Findings

Concerns should be handled for each of the four stages listed above. It is essential to take into account the likelihood of publishing prejudice and any related biases. When making judgements, the impacts supported by high-calibre research should be taken into account if the overall summary cannot be believed. This assessment should benefit from a heterogeneity investigation. Every recommendation should be assessed in light of the available data’s benefits and drawbacks.

What Are the Different Types of Systematic Literature Reviews?

A traditional systematic literature review may employ one of the following methods:

Effectiveness Reviews

These evaluations examine the degree to which a medical procedure or therapy has the desired effect. Moreover, the majority of systematic literature reviews are of this type.

Diagnostic test accuracy reviews

These evaluations provide an overview of the performance of diagnostic tests so that healthcare professionals can evaluate their accuracy before application.

Experiential (qualitative) reviews

This review examines how human experiences related to culture or society. Therefore, they can be applied to evaluate an intervention’s efficacy from a person-centred standpoint.

Costs/economics evaluation reviews

These types of reviews consider the financial consequences of a technique or intervention to determine the resources required to carry it out.

Aetiology/risk reviews

Determining the degree of any correlation between an exposure and a health result is a common goal of reviews of aetiology and risk. Thus, planning and resource allocation for healthcare can benefit from this.

Psychometric reviews

Psychometric assessments examine the effectiveness of health measurement tools so that the best one may be chosen for use.

Prevalence/incidence reviews

Reviews of prevalence and incidence quantify a disease’s prevalence among a population and the frequency with which it manifests.

Prognostic reviews

Reviews of prognosis look at a disease’s progression and possible consequences.

Expert opinion/policy reviews

Expert narratives or policies are the foundation for expert opinion/policy reviews. Moreover, they are frequently utilised in place of, or as a supplement to, quantitative data.

Methodology systematic reviews

These types of reviews can be regulated to inspect any technical problems with the planning, execution, or analysis of research investigations.

What Is the Value of Methodological Rigour While Performing Systematic Review Reviews?

Methodological rigour is crucial in conducting systematic literature reviews because it ensures the process is systematic, objective, and reproducible. A systematic review is a thorough synthesis of all the information currently available on a given subject. In order to find, select, and critically evaluate pertinent research projects and collect and synthesise data from them, it is necessary to use clear and systematic methodologies. Here are some reasons why methodological rigour is essential in conducting systematic literature reviews:

Minimises Bias

Following a standardised and rigorous approach, systematic reviews minimise bias in selecting studies, data extraction, and data synthesis. Therefore, this helps ensure the results are more objective and reliable.

Increases Transparency

Methodological rigour increases transparency in the review process by making the methods used explicit and reproducible. Therefore, this allows other researchers to assess the quality of the review and replicate the study if needed.

Enhances the quality of the evidence

Systematic reviews conducted with methodological rigour provide a more robust and reliable evidence synthesis. Thus, this increases the confidence that can be placed in the conclusions drawn from the review.

Reduces Errors

Methodological rigour helps to reduce errors in the review process by ensuring that all relevant studies are identified and that data is extracted and synthesised accurately.

Saves time and resources

By following a standardised and rigorous approach, systematic reviews can be conducted efficiently, which saves time and resources.
Overall, methodological rigour is essential in conducting systematic literature reviews because it ensures that the review process is systematic, objective, and reproducible, leading to more reliable and robust evidence synthesis. To read more blogs please click on thetechtarget