A systematic literature review is simply, a well formulated and clear question that employs systematic methods that are easy to replicate so as to identify, select and appraise critically all the relevant research. At the same time, collecting and analyzing data from the sources and studies that one includes in their lit review.
This systematic review helps to answer a focused question while employing detailed and replicable research strategies. While at it, is also identifies all published and unpublished but relevant studies, assesses for quality, all the results that were reached at so as to identify what to include or exclude in the research, and eventually gives a balanced and unbiased summary of findings.
Usually, this kind of a review is a collaboration of a team of researchers who seek to answer a complex research question, and thus, can take months or years to complete.
Types of Systemic Lit Reviews
A systemic review can either be qualitative or quantitative.
A qualitative lit review harvests its data from interviews, observations and verbal interactions, all of which are geared towards getting the meanings and interpretations of the research participants.
On the other hand, a quantitative lit review uses numerical data obtained via studies.
The Eight Steps of a Systematic Lit Review
A good systematic review goes through eight important steps so that it can answer the focus research question well. Below is a summary of the eight steps that you should follow:
Search for already existing protocols and reviews
This step is important because it allows you to see if others before you have done what you are about to embark on. If so, it gives you a chance to amend your question or refine it all together.
Formulate your specific question
Once you are sure that your question is valid and not covered in previous researches, you then formulate your question to specifically address the gap you identified.
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Develop and register your protocol
As a scholar who values set systems, you need this third step to ensure that the end result is valid, admissible and viable based on previously set research protocols. You outline your rationale for this review, as well as the eligibility criteria for the same.
Design your search strategy
In this step, you want to ensure that future scholars who may want to verify your research can have a step-by-step process that is reproducible and explicit to get to the same results. In other words, you develop a blueprint to help others achieve same results that you did following your research protocol.
Conduct your literature search
Now that you know what you need to do, your next step is to conduct a very comprehensive evaluation and search for relevant sources, journals and research papers that are already in existence. Look at relevant sources and databases and identify the literature that you need to review to affirm your hypothesis that helps you fill the existing gap in the research results previously obtained.
Select and critically appraise studies
This step simply allows you to investigate the quality of already existing studies so that you can use them as a basis for your lit review.
Extract and synthesize data
On identifying quality studies, you now extract the relevant data and information following laid out scientific research methodologies and synthesize it for your lit review.
Interpret and present findings
Finally, compile all the data, write a detailed report on this data and present these findings to the review panel for evaluation. Here is where you drive home the point that a gap which you identified in the previous studies needed to be addressed the way you did, presenting your evidence in your report.
These are the simple steps to writing a systematic literature review that is acceptable as a viable research paper.