## Damned if you do, damned if you don’t?

19 Apr, 17 | by Bob Phillips

The field of systematic review, of which Archimedes we believe sneaks in under the ‘rapid review’ heading, has long since held a solid foundation to what a systematic review needs to do. It needs to have a clear question, with a comprehensive search, and assessment of included studies bias / quality, a synthesis (which may be mathematical; meta-analysis), and a set of conclusions that draw this together.

What it’s been long struggling with is how to ‘best do’ each of these areas. ‘Best’ is itself problematic – take ‘best’ searches for example. Do they find every single possible scraplette of possible information, taking 3 months of daily specialist work, where the qualitative bulk of the data, leading to the same practical conclusion, was found in the first week? (And how do you know – prospectively – when the tipple into ‘enough’ has been reached?) more…