Eight problems with literature reviews and how to fix them

Haddaway, Neal R., Bethel, Alison, Dicks, Lynn V., Koricheva, Julia, Macura, Biljana, Petrokofsky, Gillian, Pullin, Andrew S., Savilaakso, Sini and Stewart, Gavin B. (2020) Eight problems with literature reviews and how to fix them. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 4. 1582–1589. ISSN 2397-334X

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Abstract

Traditional approaches to reviewing literature may be susceptible to bias and result in incorrect decisions. This is of particular concern when reviews address policy- and practice-relevant questions. Systematic reviews have been introduced as a more rigorous approach to synthesizing evidence across studies; they rely on a suite of evidence-based methods aimed at maximizing rigour and minimizing susceptibility to bias. Despite the increasing popularity of systematic reviews in the environmental field, evidence synthesis methods continue to be poorly applied in practice, resulting in the publication of syntheses that are highly susceptible to bias. Recognizing the constraints that researchers can sometimes feel when attempting to plan, conduct and publish rigorous and comprehensive evidence syntheses, we aim here to identify major pitfalls in the conduct and reporting of systematic reviews, making use of recent examples from across the field. Adopting a ‘critical friend’ role in supporting would-be systematic reviews and avoiding individual responses to police use of the ‘systematic review’ label, we go on to identify methodological solutions to mitigate these pitfalls. We then highlight existing support available to avoid these issues and call on the entire community, including systematic review specialists, to work towards better evidence syntheses for better evidence and better decisions.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: There is an author correction available here: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-020-01346-3 This correction relates only to the affiliation of one of the authors and not to the content of the article.
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Biological Sciences
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Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 05 Dec 2020 00:46
Last Modified: 18 Jan 2021 00:56
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/77894
DOI: 10.1038/s41559-020-01295-x

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