SEARCH UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES
As noted recently, "systematic reviews are a form of research; they are a way of bringing together what is known from the research literature using explicit and accountable methods." (Gough, 2012).
The following is a generic set of stages that "draws on" manuals and published guidelines that discuss the sequence of activities used to complete what have come to be known as "systematic reviews". Organizations are listed below that have manuals which provide details for stages and steps within those stages.
1. Begin to (or actually) formulate and state a focused research topic or question.
2. Initial “scoping” activity. What and where are the possible information sources ? Clarify topic. Clarify criteria to use to select sources and information to use (inclusion/exclusion criteria - IE).
3. Design a comprehensive or targeted search. Attempts at comprehensive searching has been widely viewed as supporting goals to reduce bias. Basic guidance for searching is discussed here. Also consult the Manuals of SR organizations; see Manual tab above. Consider possibly apriori documentation of the steps that "will be used" in the review. This has been called a protocol, and it has been viewed as a means of guarding against subjectivity, reducing bias, and supporting transparency.
4. Do searches. Screen and choose possible information sources.
5. Second screening. Use your IE criteria with resources that pass initial screening; decide which items to keep. These have the information you will "synthesize" etc. in your review.
6. Identify and “extract” useful information from resources selected. This is the "actual information" you will use in your "synthesis", etc.
7. Actually construct the arguments, picture, integration, or “answer”, etc. that seems to grow out of the information that you have chosen.
8. Create a document that can be shared that contains the “results” of steps 1-7. Present this report in a manner that allows others to clearly ‘see’ and ‘reproduce’ steps 1-7.
You can connect to organizations that specialize in systematic reviews. Access to published guidelines for doing reviews is available for each of these. Access to reviews themselves varies.