Systematic review writing

This post courtesy of Anne Taylor-Vaisey:

Here is a very useful overview of systematic review writing in medical education, about to be published in the November 2004 issue of Academic Medicine. I just accessed the article, which for some reason available right now at this URL.

Lang TA. The value of systematic reviews as research activities in medical education. Academic Medicine, November 2004;79(11): 1067-1072.

Abstract: Medical residents and postdoctoral fellows are often required to conduct and publish original research as part of their medical education. owever, their relative lack of experience, time, money, and sometimes supervision in conducting original research often results in research of modest quality on topics of limited importance. Such research may also consu! me scarce resources from the sponsoring institution. Manuscripts describing such research are often unremarkable, although most are submitted for publication, where editors and peer reviewers will spend time evaluating them. Systematic reviews of the literature, however, offer similar training in the scientific method, are relatively inexpensive to conduct, teach critical appraisal of the literature, give trainees a thorough command of the topic studied, and provide even new investigators the opportunity to make important contributions to the literature. Systematic reviews of the literature should thus be acceptable alternatives to original research assignments for most trainees in medical education programs.

The author reviews the characteristics of systematic reviews, outlines the steps in conducting them, identifies the lessons learned from completing each step, and compares the advantages and disadvantages of systematic reviews with those of conducting original research.

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