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Systematic Reviews

step five of the systematic review process. Explaining the synthesis and analysis

Systematic reviews include synthesis which summarizes and organizes the information found in the studies that are identified.  This synthesis informs the conclusions that are drawn in the systematic review and focuses on both the methodology and results of the studies.  Depending on the project and the types of studies investigated, the synthesis can be simply descriptive or can include more in depth analysis.  Generally, synthesis and analysis involve looking for trends and patterns to use in comparisons, to discover explanatory or confounding variables, to develop themes or frameworks, to inform best practices, etc.  All systematic reviews include a narrative explanation but other kinds of explanations can also be used.

Narrative explanations: Can describe trends, themes, frameworks perspectives, characteristics, quality, etc.  Especially useful for empirical research Can use structured narratives  Often accompanied by tabular explanations

Tabular explanations: Uses tables to explain the synthesis; Can be used to describe study characteristics, study measures, study quality, study results, etc;. Accompanies narrative explanations

Graphical explanations: Uses graphical methods to explore and present data Can include concept maps, Forest plots, Harvest plots, idea webs, logic models, mind maps, network analysis

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