Research Bite: The benefits of using a systematic review to learn about your research topic.

Though systematic reviews can seem daunting to read and digest, this research design has many benefits for your literature review and study design. The benefits of using a systematic review:

  • The methods section is a blueprint for how to complete research on your topic where you learn:
    • Key words/phrases to search on your topic
    • Databases to use to obtain research articles
    • The (general) number of articles that is available on the topic.
    • Roadblocks that the researchers encountered with the topic (lack of research, difficulty refining search terms, level of quality of studies, quality of experimental studies, and more).
  • The discussion section will provide information on limitations of completing research or reviewing research studies in that topical area. This provides you with areas to focus when reviewing research for your topic or when designing your own research study.

For example, if you are completing research on stroke intervention, key areas that should be included in a study : (1) length of time post stroke with participant selection, (2) assessments to determine baseline and outcomes post-intervention, and (3) intervention specifics (times per week and minutes per session, length of time between pre and posttest, etc.). When it is time to design your study, it would be important to make certain that those areas are addressed in the design. If you are completing research on that topic, it would be important to ensure that the articles you are using to make conclusions has that information.

  • The analysis of the research studies by the systematic review’s authors can provide ideas for new research with better research designs for more generalizable results (and increased likelihood of publication, grant funding and translation to the community).
  • Though comprehensive, the chart of the research articles provides a wealth of information, including analysis of the articles looking at all key areas of each study–constructs, participants, methods, measures, and outcomes.
  • At the end of reading a systematic review, you are a mini expert on the topic and have ideas of how to strengthen future research studies for more sound outcomes, increasing generalizability of the results.

I hope you enjoyed this small bite of research!

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