Research Design Service: West Midlands

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What are systematic reviews and why are they important?

To quote the NIHR “It is widely accepted that the findings of individual research studies are rarely sufficient to justify new treatments. Systematic reviews identify, evaluate, combine and summarise the findings of all relevant individual studies. Their use ensures that only the most effective and best-value interventions are adopted by the NHS and social care providers.” For a fuller explanation see the NIHR's Systematic Reviews Overview.

Do I need to do a systematic review as part of my proposed research?

The NIHR will only fund primary research where the proposed research is informed by a review of the existing evidence (NIHR Adding Value in Research Framework).

Where do I find systematic reviews?

There are specialist sources for reviews and HTAs, such as the Cochrane Library and NIHR CRD databases as well as others particularly appropriate to your topic.
The PROSPERO prospective register of systematic reviews and the protocols in the Cochrane Library's Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR) will enable you to confirm that work on your review is not already ongoing elsewhere.
If you require help with searching for a systematic review, you may have access to an NHS librarian in your workplace who will help you further. If not, then RDS subject advisers will be able to direct you.

Where do I go for help with a systematic review?

For advice on any aspects of systematic review methodology (including search strategies), RDS WM will be able to put you in touch with an appropriate subject adviser and/or advise you on training opportunities.
Contact details: 
For more information visit our Submit a Request page and complete the short form therein or contact Karen Biddle, Administrator, RDS WM Birmingham Hub Email: Tel: 0121 414 8533.