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Systematic Review & Evidence Synthesis Information Guide (UAHSL-Tucson)

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An evidence synthesis review is research that assembles data from preexisting research to answer a specific question.

The process of collecting and analyzing the evidence follows specific methodological standards and guidance to reduce bias and thereby increase the reliability of the findings.

Use the tabs on left menu to review additional guidance and tips prior to consulting with a librarian.

Time to Complete a Review

Evidence syntheses projects (including systematic and scoping reviews) are labor intensive.  A typical evidence synthesis project requires 12-18 months and a team of at least 3 people to complete. The Cochrane Collaboration has reported that comprehensive literature searches alone may require 3 to 8 months for completion.

The library provides limited support and requires reasonable lead time and expectations for completion of these projects.

Writing the systematic review protocol may take 2-6 months and completing and writing a systematic review may take 1-2 years.( Cochrane Collaboration, Cochrane Community, Review Production. Time and Commitment.)  

A study of registered systematic review protocols found that the mean time taken to complete a systematic review was 1.5 years. (Borah, R., Brown, A., Capers, P., & Kaiser, K. (2017). Analysis of the time and workers needed to conduct systematic reviews of medical interventions using data from the PROSPERO registry. BMJ Open, 7(2), E012545.)

A study on scoping reviews found a mean time of 5.2 months to complete a scoping review, while the high of the range was over 1.5 years.  (Pham, M., Rajić, A., Greig, J., Sargeant, J., Papadopoulos, A., & McEwen, S. (2014). A scoping review of scoping reviews: Advancing the approach and enhancing the consistency. Research Synthesis Methods, 5(4), 371-385.)

Organizing a Review Team

It takes a team to complete a review.  Learn more about who should be on the team for systematic reviews: National Academies Recommended Standards for Organizing the Review Team.