A systematic review attempts to gather all the empirical evidence that fits pre-specified eligibility criteria to answer a specific research question.
It uses explicit, systematic methods that are selected with a view to minimizing bias, thus providing more reliable findings from which conclusions can be drawn and decisions made.
The key characteristics of a systematic review are:
The following document compares elements of a systematic review and of a comprehensive literature review:
Researchers conducting a systematic review need to follow various predetermined yet flexible and iterative stages that describe necessary steps required to produce a rigorous synthesis of the literature.
Acknowledgement: This guide is based on the PIECES acronym developed by M. J. Foster and S. T. Jewell in their book Assembling the PIECES of a systematic review: A guide for librarians (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2017).