What do people use SLRs for?

To find highest-level evidence

  • Systematic reviews provide high-level evidence about a particular research question.
  • In addition to evaluating the effectiveness of interventions and tests, systematic reviews can provide overall conclusions on risks, hazards, and associations between variables.
  • Because of their robust and transparent methodology, systematic reviews are more reliable and useful than published expert opinions, invited reviews, and narrative reviews. 

To make informed decisions about health care provision

  • In biomedicine and health, systematic reviews are used to assist decision-making in pharmaceuticals, drugs, devices, biotechnology, and health care in medicine, surgery, dentistry, nursing, social work, and public health.
  • Systematic reviews are also useful in the fields of clinical testing, educational programs, health care practices and services, administration, health economics, and policies.

For convenience and reliability

  • Systematic reviews are convenient because they are comprehensive, unbiased, and definitive summaries of research evidence.
  • They also account for varying study factors such as differing sample sizes and study settings, thereby reducing random errors.
  • Today, health care providers can conveniently search for systematic reviews on a given question, treatment, or method. If there is a current gap in the literature, practitioners or researchers may perform, refine, or request a relevant systematic review.

To contribute to the research community

  • Taking part in the review process itself and applying knowledge in a principled evidence-based way are key parts of lifelong learning.
  • Writing systematic reviews for a peer-reviewed publication fills a knowledge gap and is a high-impact way of contributing to the professional community and the health of future patients.
  • If other knowledge gaps are found during the review process, directions for primary research can be suggested as well.

For career advancement

  • Systematic reviews can be widely used and cited, so publishing such a review would be beneficial for the authors’ career progression.
  • Institutions value article citations when appraising professional performance.
  • Published systematic reviews would help a researcher secure future research grant funding.
  • Although systematic reviews and meta-analyses involve secondary research, some peer-reviewed journals still regard them as original research.
  • An author’s published systematic review can be included in his or her research thesis or dissertation as part of an advanced degree, if allowed by the awarding institution.
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