Systematic, meta-analytic, comprehensive, rapid, short-cut, traditional, scholarly, critical, scoping, mapping or mixed?
How many words do we need to describe reviews?
That’s the answer according to an open access summary paper from the University of Sheffield, UK. They used an approach to classify reviews based on categories of search / appraisal / synthesis and analysis and have come up with a series of groups of review. The ones we’re seeing most of in medical practice are the rapid reviews (like Archi), the full on systematic review &/or meta-analysis, and some scoping reviews (saying what science exists in specific clinical question zones) and umbrella reviews that combine the results of a few other systematic reviews. It’s pretty helpful when you’re looking at a paper with a search strategy (usually in a box somewhere on p3) to try to type it – it may be that this knowledge will drive you to a full or only partial appraisal of the paper you’ve sought out.
Now, of course, there is a further and also pressing issue: should we be undertaking systematic reviews at all? But that may be another post …