Expert literature review services

From search strategy and data synthesis to systematic and targeted literature reviews, our comprehensive suite of services is designed to provide you with the most accurate, relevant, and up-to-date information available to advance your research and product development activities.

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Discover the Rx Communications difference in developing literature reviews

For over 20 years, Rx Communications has been a trusted partner of top pharmaceutical companies worldwide. With our expertise, commitment to quality, and personalised approach, Rx Communications is the trusted partner for literature reviews. In a world where scientific data is over-abundant and of variable quality, our literature review services ensure that you harness relevant and robust information effectively and efficiently. So you can focus on your other priorities.

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Discover the Rx Communications difference in developing literature reviews

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Comprehensive range of literature review services

With over 20 years of experience, our Rx Communications team can handle all forms of literature review, providing highly accurate and relevant answers for your product development and research activities.

Rigorous, methodical approach

Our approach ensures the relevant literature is identified, appraised, and synthesised accurately, ensuring the results and final manuscript or report are built on a comprehensive and robust evidence base.

Tailored to your unique needs

Each literature review project is specifically tailored to our client's requirements and objectives, ensuring that the end product aligns perfectly with your research or publication goals, regardless of complexity or scope.


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Search strategy

Our searches are tailored to meet the unique needs of each project. We carefully assess your research question and objectives, then identify the most appropriate databases, search terms, and selection criteria to target the highest-quality evidence relevant to your project. We test citation hits and appropriateness with as many search strings as it takes.

Full range of solutions

Recognising that every research project has distinct requirements, our literature review services are designed to accommodate your specific needs. We provide a range of services, including:

  • Systematic literature reviews
  • Targeted literature reviews
  • Rapid literature reviews
  • Scoping reviews
  • Meta-analyses
  • Benchmarking

Expertise and experience

Our team of accomplished researchers and medical writers boasts considerable experience conducting literature reviews across many therapeutic areas. With backgrounds in fields such as medicine, pharmacy, health economics, and life sciences, our experts bring a breadth of knowledge that allows them to understand, interpret, and synthesise complex scientific and medical information. Our team assures:

  • Multi-disciplinary team with a broad range of therapeutic area expertise.
  • Comprehensive understanding of research methodologies
  • Assurance of methodologically sound outcomes.
  • Ability to navigate complex research landscapes 
  • Adaptability to any project, no matter the therapeutic area or research question.

Comprehensive research support

We understand that literature reviews are more than just a systematic gathering of information. It's about creating a robust framework to collate, analyse, and interpret the vast amounts of scientific data, and translate this into meaningful insights that can drive your project forward. Our team assures:

  • Access to a team of research experts with deep understanding of methodologies and biomedical databases.
  • Thorough literature reviews that uncover the most relevant and impactful evidence for your research.
  • Flexibility in approach to handle your specific research question.
  • Expert synthesis of findings into a cohesive narrative to drive your project or publication.
  • Confidence in a robust research framework that collates, analyses, interprets, and translates data into meaningful insights.
  • Quality assurance with each study carefully evaluated for relevance and impact to your research.

Uncompromising quality and client satisfaction

We maintain a strict quality assurance process, with multiple rounds of reviews to ensure the final output meets our high standards. We pay close attention to your feedback and make every effort to incorporate your valuable inputs into our work. We also understand this is often a starting point for further research or a crucial piece in a larger project, so we ensure our outputs are not only of high quality but are also actionable, providing clear direction for your future steps. Our team assures:

  • Rigorous internal quality control processes
  • Adherence to industry best practices and guidelines
  • Bespoke solutions addressing your specific needs and objectives
  • Confidentiality and respect for your intellectual property

Project management and collaboration

We believe that superior project management is at the heart of delivering effective literature reviews. Our project managers work in sync with our researchers and writers, ensuring seamless coordination among various stages of the review process. With our team at the helm, you can rest assured that your literature review project is well-coordinated and on track, giving you peace of mind and freeing up your time to focus on other important tasks. Our team assures:

  • Seamless coordination of all stages of the review process.
  • Regular updates and communication to keep clients informed and engaged.
  • Ability to adapt to changes and challenges, ensuring project continuity and success.
  • Assurance of meeting deadlines without compromising on quality.
  • Hassle-free process, allowing clients to focus on other essential tasks.
  • Exceptional project delivery that consistently exceeds expectations.

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With a clear roadmap in hand, our team will work to integrate seamlessly into your project to ensure timely execution, exceptional quality, and ultimately to the successful completion of your project.

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Here we take some time to answer some common questions. This is a work in progress which are always adding to and updating. We will be creating long-form content for many of these topics as we go on.

Why are literature reviews done in medicine and healthcare?
Literature reviews in medicine and healthcare establish what is already known, help in developing clinical guidelines, and inform practice and policy decisions. They often serve as the basis of evidence-based healthcare, guiding effective treatments and interventions.
How should I vet my sources for inclusion in a literature review?
Careful selection of sources for a literature review is crucial. Starting with a broad database search, you'd use specific inclusion and exclusion criteria to filter relevant studies. The process should be transparent and replicable.
What is the role of outcome reporting bias in meta-analyses?
Outcome reporting bias occurs when the selection of outcomes to report is influenced by the results. Systematic reviews should consider this when interpreting results. REGISTRATION of study protocols and CONSORT guidelines aim to minimise such bias.
When should I consider updating a systematic review?
Systematic reviews should be updated when new significant studies are published, altering the conclusions of the original review. This ensures clinicians, policy-makers, and researchers base their decisions on the best available evidence.
What are the steps in creating a systematic review?
Systematic review involves several steps: defining the research question, developing the review protocol, conducting a comprehensive literature search, selecting relevant studies, extracting data, assessing quality, synthesising findings, drawing conclusions, and finally, writing the report.
What are rapid reviews and what role do they play in evidence synthesis?
Rapid reviews are streamlined systematic reviews, quickly synthesising available evidence, often during emergencies or for urgent decision-making. They trade-off comprehensiveness for speed but remain transparent and systematic in their methodology.
What are some common mistakes in literature reviews?
Common mistakes are: inadequate literature search, ignoring unpublished articles (publication bias), lack of clear inclusion/exclusion criteria, weak organisation and structure, subjective interpretation of findings, uncritical acceptance of research claims, and inconsistency in quality assessment.
How is heterogeneity assessed and handled in meta-analysis?
Heterogeneity, the variability among study outcomes, is assessed using statistical measures like Chi² test and I² statistic in meta-analysis. Methods to manage heterogeneity include sub-group analysis, meta-regression, random-effects model, and sensitivity analysis.
How much input will I have in the process?
Typically, we like a kick off call to really understand what it is you want. At this point we will often bring preliminary search results to the call so we can discuss the research question and inclusion/exclusion criteria in depth.  At either this meeting or the next you will have a few papers analysed in the spreadsheet so we can discuss any other data issues.  We are happy to involve you further in either paper retrieval or in potential data trends and findings.  However, most of the time our clients prefer to have the next follow up call after they have received either the completed spreadsheet and/or the first draft of the report, so they can give us detailed feedback. 
How do you adjust for various study designs in a literature review?
Various models (random-effects model, fixed-effect model, etc.) can adjust for different study designs in a meta-analysis. Choice of model should be based on the assumption of homogeneity or heterogeneity of the studies’ effect sizes.
How does it differ from an ordinary essay or research paper?
Unlike an essay or a research paper revolving around a single argument or idea, a literature review is a thorough examination of a wide range of sources on a particular topic. It aims to refine the existing knowledge and indicate areas for further research.
Why is peer review important in literature reviews?
Peer review ensures the rigour and quality of a literature review. It involves experts scrutinising the methodology, the validity of findings, and overall quality of work, which strengthens the scientific merit and reliability of the review.
How does a systematic review improve healthcare services?
Systematic reviews inform best practices in healthcare by providing robust evidence on the effectiveness of interventions. Through comprehensive evaluation of research, systematic reviews can drive improvements, influence policy decisions, optimise resources, and enhance patient outcomes in healthcare services.
What is protocol in a systematic review?
In systematic review, the protocol outlines the pre-defined objective, eligibility criteria, search strategy, data extraction, quality assessment and analysis processes. It ensures transparency, reduces bias, and facilitate replication of the review.
What does 'subgroup analysis' in a systematic review mean?
Subgroup analysis' explores whether research findings hold true for particular subgroups of participants. It can reveal differences in effects due to variables such as age, sex, disease severity and other characteristic, yielding more tailored insights.
How long does a literature review generally take?
The number of papers and parameters to be analysed typically determines the length of time taken. For example, once the searches and research questions have been finalised, and the papers retrieved, It may take a month for a writer to analyse 20 parameters for 80 - 100 papers. This means the client then gets a first draft of the report about 1 - 2 weeks later. It can also depend on the complexity of the parameters you require; if these are hard to analyse with several different methodologies, the process takes longer.
What are systematic reviews?
Systematic reviews aim to provide a complete, exhaustive summary of current literature relevant to a research question. They follow a clear, predefined protocol and aim to minimise bias through comprehensive literature search and systematic data extraction and analysis.
What issues does a systematic review potentially identify?
By critically appraising and synthesising all available evidence, a systematic review can identify inconsistencies in results, gaps in research, issues with study design, and potential biases, all of which can guide future research.
How is confidence assessed in the reviews’ findings?
Confidence in a review’s findings is typically assessed using the GRADE (Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluations) system. It rates confidence in estimates as high, moderate, low, or very low.
How can citation screening processes be optimised?
Citation screening can be optimised through team training, clear inclusion/exclusion criteria, pilot testing, and the use of screening tools. Automation and machine learning algorithms are also increasingly used to aid the screening process.
What is the role of systematic reviews in pharmacovigilance?
Systematic reviews support pharmacovigilance by identifying and synthesising all available evidence about adverse drug effects. These reviews inform drug safety profiles, alert healthcare professionals, and optimise patient safety.
How is transparency ensured throughout the systematic review process?
Transparency is ensured through pre-defined protocols, explicit eligibility criteria, comprehensive search strategy, dual independent screening & data extraction, careful explanation of methods used for study quality assessment, data synthesis, and potential conflict of interests.
How to address unavailable or missing data in systematic reviews?
In systematic reviews, unavailable or missing data pose challenges. Multiple imputation, sensitivity analyses, or contacting authors are common approaches to handle missing data. If considerable data are missing, interpret findings cautiously.
How are literature reviews helpful to patients?
Literature reviews, particularly systematic reviews, provide up-to-date and reliable knowledge about the effectiveness of treatments and interventions. This information can help patients and clinicians make informed decisions about medically sound and appropriate care.
What characterises a high-quality literature review?
High-quality literature reviews are characterised by a robust and reproducible methodology, use of a wide range of reliable sources, objective interpretation of findings, transparency in reporting, absence of bias, and relevant implications for future research.
How does a scoping review differ from a systematic review?
Scoping reviews aim to map the existing literature on a broad topic, examining the extent, range, and nature of research. Systematic reviews, on the other hand, thoroughly summarise and analyse all relevant studies answering a specific research question.
Why are literature reviews important?
Literature reviews are crucial to prevent duplication of research, provide a clear understanding of existing knowledge and highlight research gaps. This guides future studies and aids in policy development and decision-making in various fields.
What are some best practices for writing a clear and comprehensive literature review?
Best practices include setting clear objectives, following a protocol, conducting comprehensive searches, using strict inclusion/exclusion criteria, assessing study quality, synthesising data systematically, declaring conflicts of interest, and making robust and impartial conclusions.
Can systematic reviews help patients make informed decisions about treatments?
Yes, systematic reviews summarise the scientific evidence regarding the safety and effectiveness of different therapeutic options. Having access to this information can empower patients to make informed decisions about their care.
Why is replication important in literature reviews?
Replication in literature reviews confirms accuracy of findings, improves reliability, and ensures that the conclusions drawn are robust and trustworthy. It aids in detecting errors, enhancing the transparency, and credibility of the review.
What does 'search strategy' in a systematic review mean?
In a systematic review, the 'search strategy' outlines how and where comprehensive searches for relevant literature will be conducted. It details the databases, date range, language restrictions, keywords, and any other parameters to identify potential studies.
Why are systematic reviews often part of Cochrane reviews?
Cochrane reviews are renowned systematic reviews in healthcare, renowned for their rigorous methods and standard of evidence. They help in making informed health decisions, forming guidelines, and informing policies by collating and summarising the best available evidence.
How can I integrate a broad array of literature into a cohesive review?
To integrate a wide range of literature in a review, group studies based on similarities in objectives, methodologies or findings. Discuss common trends across studies, inconsistencies, and identify gaps. Use thematic, methodological or chronological schema.
What are the implications of publication bias on a literature review?
Publication bias can skew the results and conclusions of a literature review, as studies showing positive or significant results are more likely to get published. Techniques such as funnel plots and Egger’s test can detect publication bias.
What's the difference between a traditional and a systematic literature review?
While a traditional literature review offers a broad overview of the scholarly landscape, systematic reviews use strict protocols and methodologies to conduct an exhaustive and unbiased assessment of all relevant studies on a particular topic.
Are all types of studies included in systematic reviews?
Systematic reviews may include all types of studies depending on the review question. These might encompass randomised controlled trials, observational studies, case-control studies, cohort studies, qualitative studies, and even grey literature.
How is bias avoided in literature reviews?
Bias in literature reviews is avoided by following a structured process, adhering strictly to defined criteria for study inclusion/exclusion, declaring conflicts of interest, and using standardised methods for data extraction, quality assessment and analysis.
What guidelines are recommended for reporting systematic reviews?
Systematic reviews should adhere to the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) guidelines which set the standard for reporting, ensuring comprehensive and transparent reporting.
What’s the importance of duplicate study selection and data extraction?
Duplicate study selection and data extraction ensure accuracy, reduce errors, and help bolster the validity of systematic review findings. Two reviewers independently perform these tasks, and any disagreement gets resolved through discussion or third-party adjudication.
What are pooled analysis and meta regression in systematic reviews?
Both are advanced statistical methods used in systematic reviews. Pooled analysis combines data from multiple studies to increase statistical power while 'meta-regression' investigates relationships between study-level characteristics and study results.
Who uses literature reviews and why?
Literature reviews are used by researchers, professionals, and policymakers to understand the current state of research on a topic. Scholars use them to identify trends, methodologies, biases and gaps in existing studies.
What are the challenges of assessing risk of bias at outcome and study level?
Risk of bias can be assessed at both outcome and study levels. Outcome level addresses bias concerning specific outcomes within a study (e.g., measurement bias), while study level indicates biases that affect the entire study (e.g., selection bias).
Should all systematic reviews have an associated meta-analysis?
Not necessarily. Systematic reviews should involve a meta-analysis if possible and appropriate, but this depends on the nature and consistency of the studies' methodologies and outcome measures.
What if I don’t want a systematic approach, just a review of papers I provide?
This approach is fine for an internal document, but for anything intended for publication (and really we recommend this approach for internal documentation too in order to prevent bias) we would still perform comprehensive literature searches to ensure that your approach can’t result in a claim of “cherry picking”.  This is the term used when the data have been selected to only show a particular viewpoint, and therefore are not a true representation of all the literature. This is considered an unethical practice and Rx would strongly advise against it. 
How should quantitative and qualitative research be integrated in reviews?
Integrating qualitative and quantitative research in reviews can provide a more comprehensive understanding of a subject. Mixed-method synthesis techniques, such as meta-synthesis for qualitative data and meta-analysis for quantitative data, can help achieve this integration.
What strategies can I use to avoid bias in my review?
Avoid bias in literature reviews by following rigorous and transparent protocols, utilising comprehensive search strategy, employing dual independent screening and data extraction, declaring potential conflicts of interest, and adopting objective data synthesis methods.
What are umbrella reviews and how do they contribute to research synthesis?
Umbrella reviews consolidate evidence from multiple systematic reviews into one accessible document. They offer a high level of evidence, summarising all relevant information on a single topic, aiding decision-making.
How can we improve communication and understanding of systematic review findings?
Improvements can be made by using plain language summaries, infographics, interactive summary-of-findings tables, webinars, and media releases. Engaging patients, the public, health professionals, and policymakers in the dissemination process can enhance comprehension and application of findings.
What is the role of Grey literature in systematic reviews?
Grey literature refers to unpublished or non-commercially published documents, such as reports, theses, conferences abstracts. Including grey literature in systematic reviews can reduce publication bias and provide a more comprehensive view of the available evidence.
What does a sensitivity analysis in a systematic review involve?
Sensitivity analysis in systematic review examines how changes in specific parameters or assumptions affect the review's outcomes. It's a way to test the robustness of results and understand how uncertainties might impact the conclusions.
How to handle studies with multiple treatment arms in meta-analyses?
Multi-arm trials, where several interventions are compared to a control group in a single study, are common in healthcare research. Techniques like adjusted indirect comparison can be used to include multi-arm studies in a meta-analysis.
How do I know if a literature review is reliable?
A reliable literature review follows a clear, reproducible methodology. It gives special attention to the selection criteria, search strategy, data extraction, quality assessment and synthesis methods. Check for concrete explanations and transparency in reporting.
How to base clinical guidelines on systematic reviews?
Clinical guidelines should ideally be based on high-quality systematic reviews, the highest form of evidential hierarchy. Systematic reviews provide a rigorous synthesis of all available evidence, assisting guideline panels in making consistent, evidence-based recommendations.
Are literature reviews published in academic journals?
Yes, literature reviews are frequently published in academic journals. Systematic reviews, scoping reviews, meta-analyses, and narrative reviews constitute a large part of published literature across a wide range of disciplines.
How to interpret funnel plots in meta-analyses?
Funnel plots are simple scatter plots used in meta-analyses to assess publication bias. An asymmetrical plot typically suggests publication bias. However, other study-related factors, such as poor methodological quality, could also cause asymmetry.
What is the role of the software in systematic reviews?
Software helps streamline the process of systematic reviews, from citation screening (Rayyan), data extraction (Covidence), statistical analysis (RevMan), to tracking project progress (EPPI-Reviewer). These tools foster efficiency, collaboration, and reduce manual errors.
How are prognostic factor reviews conducted?
Prognostic factor reviews identify factors associated with the outcome of a disease in patients. They involve five steps: background, search and selection, data collection, synthesis and findings, and discussion. Quality assessment tools specifically developed for prognostic factor reviews are employed.
What subject areas can a literature review cover?
Literature reviews can cover any subject from healthcare, education, social sciences, engineering, to arts. The scope is vast; the aim is to synthesise available literature on the subject in question.
How are new techniques like living systematic reviews changing the landscape?
Living systematic reviews are an innovative approach that continually update with new evidence. They leverage technology, streamlined methodologies, and community engagement to provide timelier updates, enabling decision-makers to base their decisions on the latest evidence.
How to conduct a sensitive and specific search strategy in systematic reviews?
For a sensitive and specific search strategy, start broad and narrow down with tailored keywords and MeSH terms. Use Boolean operators, truncations and wildcards appropriately. Search multiple databases and consider peer-reviewed grey literature.
What is a narrative review?
Narrative reviews provide comprehensive overviews of topics, but unlike systematic reviews, they don’t use systematic methods to search, appraise, and summarise available evidence. They offer a broad perspective rather than an exhaustive summation of all available research.
How can AI augment the process of literature review?
Artificial Intelligence, especially Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning, can augment the process of systematic review by automating citation screening, data extraction, even bias assessment, reducing manual workload and accelerating the process.
How do you manage conflicts of interest in systematic reviews?
Conflicts of interest should be declared. These include any financial, personal, or professional relationships that could influence the review's results. Transparency aids credibility and allows readers to judge potential bias.
Can a literature review contain opinions?
Literature reviews should be based on facts and evidence from existing research, not personal opinions. They reflect a balanced perspective, evaluating each study objectively while highlighting strengths, weaknesses, and areas of uncertainty.
Can social media help in the dissemination of systematic review findings?
Social media platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn or ResearchGate can increase the visibility and reach of systematic review findings. Sharing bite-sized key messages, graphics, or video summaries can enhance public understanding and application of health evidence.
Are systematic reviews considered high-quality evidence?
Yes, systematic reviews are considered high-quality evidence. They rigorously summarise all existing studies on a topic, control for biases, and provide a consolidated picture of global knowledge, generally occupying the highest level in the hierarchy of evidence.
How can you conduct a systematic review of pharmacoeconomic studies?
A systematic review of pharmacoeconomic studies would follow similar steps as any systematic review while emphasising including economic evaluations, considering perspectives, time horizons, type of economic analysis, discounting, sensitivity analyses and quality of health economic study.
What’s the role of systematic reviews in Health Technology Assessments (HTAs)?
Systematic reviews are often employed in Health Technology Assessment (HTA), where they summarise evidence on the effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, and safety of a technology, thereby guiding reimbursement decisions and policy-making.
How are systematic reviews used in medical education?
Systematic reviews play crucial roles in medical education, delivering a comprehensive overview of existing evidence. They provide a foundation for evidence-based medicine, train students to critically appraise research, and help educators develop relevant curricula.
How to conduct a network meta-analysis?
A network meta-analysis compares multiple treatments simultaneously by analysing direct comparisons of interventions within randomised controlled trials and indirect comparisons across trials. It's beneficial when multiple treatments are available and lack direct comparisons.
How do Indirect comparisons and evidence synthesis work in systematic reviews?
Indirect comparisons refer to inference of the comparative efficacy of two interventions, based on their effectiveness compared to a common comparator. Evidence synthesis refers to the integration of findings from various studies to reveal an overall picture.
How is narrative synthesis incorporated in systematic reviews?
Narrative synthesis is often part of a systematic review, especially when quantitative synthesis (meta-analysis) isn’t possible or sufficient. It narratively summarises and explains the findings of included studies, highlighting similarities, differences and overall patterns.
Can you provide an example of a well-written literature review in the health field?
Examples of well-written literature reviews abound in academic medical journals such as BMJ, JAMA, and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. These generally have rigorous protocols, standardised methods, and transparent reporting, offering lessons for writing high-quality reviews.
How is risk of bias assessed in systematic reviews?
Risk of bias is assessed using standardised tools that evaluate various domains such as selection bias, performance bias, detection bias, attrition bias, and reporting bias. The Cochrane Collaboration’s tool and ROBINS-I are commonly used.
How can computational tools aid in conducting literature reviews?
Computational tools like Rayyan for citation screening, Covidence for data extraction, and RevMan for data synthesis can aid in conducting literature reviews. They facilitate collaboration, reduce manual errors, and streamline the review process.
What is the PRISMA guideline?
PRISMA stands for Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses. It's a guideline ensuring the explicit and comprehensive reporting of systematic reviews and meta-analyses, enhancing the clarity and replicability of research.
How are sources selected for a literature review?
In literature reviews, sources are chosen based on their relevance to the research question. Comprehensive searches in databases, hand-searching of key journals, and manual reviews of references are common ways to select sources.
What is the purpose of critiquing literature in a literature review?
Critiquing literature allows researchers to assess the strengths and weaknesses of existing studies, identify methodological flaws, and understand the context and limitations of research findings. This contributes to a comprehensive and balanced literature review.
How can a systematic review be used in public policy formation?
Systematic reviews synthesise all available evidence on a topic, aiding decision-making in public policy. They can identify effective interventions, assess costs and benefits, highlight gaps, and provide recommendations, facilitating implementation of evidence-based policies.
How do you keep track of information flow in a systematic review?
The PRISMA flow diagram is a common tool for tracking the flow of information through different stages of a systematic review. It records the number of records identified, included, and excluded and reasons for exclusions.
How to deal with studies having zero events in meta-analyses?
Dealing with studies having zero events in meta-analyses can be challenging. Various statistical methods, such as adding a continuity correction or using specific statistical models or Bayesian techniques, can be used to accommodate this issue.
What skills and tools are necessary for conducting a literature review?
Conducting a literature review requires skills in project management, critical analysis and synthesis, and scientific writing. Along with these, familiarity with database searching and referencing tools, and statistical software (for meta-analysis) is beneficial.
How is the quality of a systematic review measured?
The quality of a systematic review is usually assessed using the AMSTAR (A MeaSurement Tool to Assess systematic Reviews) checklist. It covers aspects like protocol registration, literature search, data extraction, risk of bias assessment, and conflict of interest statement.
What is the difference between primary, secondary, and tertiary literature?
Primary literature refers to original research reports authored by the investigators themselves. Secondary literature includes reviews, summaries, or analyses of primary research. Tertiary literature like textbooks or encyclopedia provides summarised version of primary and secondary literature.
How do pairwise and network meta-analyses differ?
Pair-wise meta-analysis compares two interventions directly using the data from studies which have compared them. Network meta-analysis compares multiple treatments simultaneously by analysing direct and indirect comparisons, providing a ranking of effectiveness among all treatments.
How do I interpret the results of a literature review?
Results from a literature review can be interpreted by examining the key findings, methodological flaws, and future recommendations. Assessing the strength of the evidence, the quality of included studies, and consistency of results can aid interpretation.
What are literature databases?
Literature databases are digital platforms containing academic journals, conference papers, theses, reports etc. Some popular databases for health-related literature include PubMEd, Embase, and Cochrane Library -- invaluable for conducting systematic literature reviews.
What is a quality assessment in a systematic review?
Quality assessment in a systematic review evaluates the methodological rigour of included studies. It helps to assess the risk of bias and the reliability of findings, influencing the weighting of studies in synthesising evidence.
How is a literature review different from a literature survey?
A literature survey provides an overview of existing literature in a specific field without necessarily offering a critical evaluation. On the other hand, a literature review critically assesses research in a field, discussing patterns, contradictions, gaps, and future directions.
How does sensitivity, specificity & diagnostic odds ratio affect the meta-analysis of diagnostic test accuracy studies?
Sensitivity, specificity, and diagnostic odds ratio all provide valuable information in the meta-analysis of diagnostic test accuracy studies. They describe the test's ability to correctly identify those with and without the condition. Therefore, they impact interpretation and application of test findings.
Can non-English studies be included in systematic reviews?
Studies in non-English languages may be included, subject to adequate translation, to avoid language bias. However, practical constraints like translation resources and time may limit such inclusion.
How is the registration of systematic review protocols helpful?
Registering systematic review protocols guards against selective reporting, duplication of effort and provides transparency. Prospective registration platforms like PROSPERO enhance credibility and allow others to learn about ongoing reviews.
How are literature reviews updated?
Literature reviews are updated when substantial new evidence becomes available, affecting the understanding of the current landscape. Such updates ensure reviews stay relevant, providing accurate information to guide research, policy, and practice.
What role does a literature review play in a dissertation or research paper?
In a research paper or a dissertation, a literature review aids in setting context and demonstrating knowledge of the existing work. It provides a theoretical backdrop and reveals gaps in previous research, justifying the necessity for the new study.
What is a literature review?
A literature review is a comprehensive evaluation and summary of existing research on a particular subject. It synthesises the findings to deliver important information, highlighting major trends, gaps, and inconsistencies to provide a clearer understanding of the topic.
How to interpret the result of a meta-analysis and what are the potential limitations?
Meta-analysis results provide a combined effect size from all included studies. Interpretation should consider the magnitude and direction of the effect, confidence intervals, heterogeneity, and potential publication bias. Understanding the clinical context is key to interpret its relevance.
Do I need a background in the subject to understand a literature review?
While basic knowledge about a topic can be beneficial, a well-written literature review should provide sufficient background information, making it accessible even for non-experts. Still, understanding the technical jargon may require a certain level of expertise.
What does a flow diagram in a systematic review show?
A flow diagram visualises the progression of information throughout the different stages of a systematic review. It displays the number of articles identified, screened, deemed eligible and included in the final review, providing a transparent overview of the process.
How are literature reviews structured?
Literature reviews start with an introduction setting the context, followed by the main body that discusses the literature under thematic, methodological, chronological, or other organisational schemes. They end with a conclusion summarising major findings and suggesting areas for future research.
How do literature reviews contribute to evidence-based practice?
Literature reviews play a pivotal role in evidence-based practice by summarising and critically assessing the quality of available evidence. This helps healthcare professionals make informed decisions, ensuring the most effective and efficient practices are adopted.

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