Knowing the difference between these two concepts is key. A systematic review aims to answer a specific research question through rigorous identification, appraisal and synthesis of research evidence, so it's important that the search strategy is comprehensive and reproducible. In contrast, a literature review is a descriptive and evaluative summary of the research in your area of interest and is likely to cover a broader research topic. It is less likely to involve:. It is important to have a well-defined research question and to be clear about your objectives when you start work on a systematic review.
Defining the research question and developing a protocol are the essential first steps in your systematic review. The success of your systematic review depends on a clear and focused question, so take the time to get it right. PICO may be the most well-known model framework: it has its origins in epidemiology and now is widely-used for evidence-based practice and systematic reviews. SPICE is used mostly in social science and healthcare research.
It is also a good idea to register your own review here once you've established its uniqueness. Your first step is to devise a focused, clear question which your review will address. You then need to develop a protocol which outlines the study methodology including:. You may wish to do some scoping searches of relevant databases to find out how much has been written, and what limits you should apply.
Sometimes it helps to write an answerable question that begins and ends with a patient, population, or problem. PICO is most widely used in quantitative research questions:. Is Chemotherapy intervention more efficient than Surgery comparison in managing stage 1 breast cancer problem for women patients population? PEO is most useful for qualitative research questions:.