A systematic review is a review of all published and unpublished evidence on a specific topic, using an explicit game plan that can be reproduced by another researcher or team.
From the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions (2019):
A systematic review attempts to collate all the empirical evidence that fits pre-specified eligibility criteria in order to answer a specific research question. It uses explicit, systematic methods that are selected with a view to minimizing bias, thus providing more reliable findings from which conclusions can be drawn and decisions made.
Systematic reviews are important, often rewarding and, at times, exciting research projects. They offer the opportunity for authors to make authoritative statements about the extent of human knowledge in important areas and to identify priorities for further research. They sometimes cover issues high on the political agenda and receive attention from the media.
Conducting research with these impacts is not without its challenges, however, and completing a high-quality systematic review is often demanding and time-consuming.
Systematic reviews are a powerful tool for evidence-based public health (EBPH) because they provide:
in order to meet the following objectives:
From Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions (2019) and Torgerson (2003).