Routine piloting in systematic reviews--a modified approach?
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BACKGROUND: A continuous growth in the publication of research papers means that there is an expanding volume of data available to the systematic reviewer. Sometimes, researchers can become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of data being processed, leading to inefficient data extraction. This paper seeks to address this problem by proposing a modification to the current systematic review methodology. PROPOSED METHOD: This paper details the routine piloting of a systematic review all the way through to evidence-synthesis stage using data from a sample of included papers. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: The result of piloting a sample of papers through to evidence-synthesis stage is to produce a 'mini systematic review'. Insights from such a pilot review may be used to modify the criteria in the data extraction form. It is proposed that this approach will ensure that in the full review the most useful and relevant information is extracted from all the papers in one phase without needing to re-visit the individual papers at a later stage. CONCLUSIONS: Routine piloting in systematic reviews has been developed in response to advances in information technology and the subsequent increase in rapid access to clinical papers and data. It is proposed that the routine piloting of large systematic reviews will enable themes and meaning in the data to become apparent early in the review process. This, in turn, will facilitate the efficient extraction of data from all the papers in the full review. It is proposed that this approach will result in increased validity of the review, with potential benefits for increasing efficiency.
This is a freely-available open access publication. Please cite the published version which is available via the DOI link in this record.
Systematic Reviews, 2014, Vol. 3: 77
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