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A Brief Overlook of Systematic Reviews


Reviewing literature has never been more efficient! Tools like DistillerSR, a comprehensive literature and systematic review software, allow you to manage literature and systematic reviews with more accuracy and efficiency. However, one must know what a systematic review is, and why they are considered the ‘gold standard’ of evidence.

In this article, we will cover what is a systematic review. We will also address systematic review vs literature review to clarify the differences.

Systematic Review

A systematic review is a type of review that collects and critically analyzes multiple research studies or papers. A systematic review follows a specific protocol that includes defining a research question, searching for relevant data, analyzing the data, and writing up the results.

Systematic reviews are considered the gold standard for evidence-based decision making and are increasingly being used in all areas of research. Systematic reviews are used to inform clinical practice guidelines, policy decisions, and research priorities.

Systematic reviews have several advantages over other types of literature review. First, they are comprehensive. Second, they are transparent and objective. Third, they are repeatable.

Systematic reviews are time-consuming and require a large investment of resources. As a result, they are often conducted by teams of researchers with expertise in the particular topic area. For this reason, platforms that help with systematic reviews are highly sought after.

Steps Taken in a Systematic Review

The first step in a systematic review is to develop a research question. The research question should be specific and clearly defined.

Searching for relevant data is the second step. This includes searching for published papers, unpublished papers, and gray literature.

The third step is to select the studies that will be included in the review. Studies are typically selected based on inclusion and exclusion criteria.

The fourth step is to extract data from the selected studies. This includes extracting information on the study design, participants, interventions, outcomes, and results.

The fifth step is to critically appraise the studies. This involves assessing the risk of bias and determining the quality of the evidence.

The sixth step is to analyze the data. This includes conducting a meta-analysis and/or performing a narrative synthesis.

The seventh step is to write up the results of the review. Results should be presented in a clear and concise manner.

Literature Review

A literature review is a summary of the existing body of research on a topic. A literature review may be conducted as part of a research project, or it may be done as a standalone review.

A literature review has several purposes. First, it provides an overview of the current state of knowledge on a topic. Second, it identifies gaps in the existing research. Third, it helps to build consensus among researchers on a topic. Fourth, it can be used to develop hypotheses or research questions.

The perfect literature review does more than simply summarize sources. It’s intended to be an all-encompassing database of knowledge on a topic, including studies from numerous areas. To provide a clear picture of the current state of knowledge on the subject.

Systematic Review vs Literature Review

Systematic reviews are often confused with literature reviews. Both types of reviews are concerned with reading and critically analyzing a body of research. The main difference between the two is that a systematic review follows a pre-defined protocol, while a literature review does not.

A literature review is a study of existing materials that provides context or background information about a certain topic. As a result, the methodology is less comprehensive and exhaustive. The aim is to provide an overview of a subject as an introduction to a paper or report. This information is gained first by assessing existing research, theories, and evidence, and then by individual critical evaluation and discussion of this material.

A systematic review, on the other hand, is a comprehensive and detailed assessment of all available evidence on a given topic. This means that systematic reviewers collect data from, for example, clinical trials or surveys specifically designed for the review. It is for this reason that systematic reviews are considered the highest level of evidence; because they are the most comprehensive and rigorous type of literature review.

What are Each Used for?

A literature review can be used for several purposes. For example, it can be used to: provide background information on a topic, help to build consensus among researchers, identify gaps in the existing research, and develop further hypotheses or research questions

A systematic review, on the other hand, is a higher standard of evidence and primarily used to inform clinical practice guidelines, policy decisions, and research priorities.


Knowing the difference between a literature review and a systematic review is important. Both are useful research tools, but they are used for different purposes. Understanding when to use each type of review will help you to conduct more effective research.

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