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According to the Cochrane Handbook, section 1.2.2, "a systematic review attempts to collate all empirical evidence that fits pre-specified eligibility criteria in order to answer a specific research question."
The key characteristics of a systematic review are:
Source: Green, S., Higgins, J.P.T., Alderson, P., Clarke, M., Mulrow, C.D., Oxman, A.D. (2008). Chapter 1: Introduction. In: Higgins, J.P.T., Green, S. (Eds.), Cochrane handbook for systematic reviews of interventions. The Cochrane Collaboration.
A systematic review is a lengthy process. Here is a general timeline for conducting a systematic review:
|1-2||Preparation of protocol|
|3-8||Searches for published and unpublished studies|
|2-3||Pilot test of eligibility criteria|
|3||Pilot test of 'Risk of bias' assessment|
|3||Pilot test of data collection|
|5-11||Follow up of missing information|
|1-11||Preparation of review report|
|12-||Keeping the review up to date|
Source: Green, S. and Higgins, J.P. (2008). Preparing a cochrane review. In J.P. Higgins and S. Green (eds.), Cochrane handbook for systematic reviews of interventions. https://doi.org/10.1002/9780470712184.ch2
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