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Systematic Reviews

Systematic reviews in the Social Sciences

Systematic reviews in the area of Social Sciences, Humanities and Law are similar to those carried out in the area of Health and Life Sciences in that they are a valuable means of reviewing all the available evidence on whether a particular intervention is effective.  However, at Teesside University there are differences in the way the systematic reviews are carried out between the disciplines.

Differences between systematic reviews in Health and Social Sciences


Social Sciences

Months or years to produces Weeks or months to produce
Answers a well defined and focused question Answers a well defined and focused question
Includes a written protocol (a reasoned plan for the entire review process) Involves a detailed search strategy
Searches for all published and unpublished literature on a topic Searches for published literature on a topic
Systematically assesses the quality and potential bias of all available evidence Critically summarises the literature
Records and writes up details of all databases searched, search terms used and numbers of results Records details of databases searched, search terms used and numbers of results
Synthesises all findings and meta-analysis all data
Makes recommendations for professional practice
Involves 3 or more people to eliminate bias Usually involves 1 person so open to bias

Adapted from: Bath University Systematic Reviews. Available at: (Accessed: 28 May 2020)

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