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Systematic Reviews and Evidence Synthesis Guide Ask Us

Guide Sections


Evidence Synthesis (and Systematic Reviews)

Evidence synthesis is a form of research that includes dozens of types of reviews that all share a set of core methodologies, and that (in addition to systematic reviews) also includes umbrella reviews, clinical guidelines, rapid reviews, scoping reviews, meta-analyses, and more. The purpose of a evidence synthesis is to take all the available evidence on a topic and draw conclusions based on the amount and strength of the evidence available.

How Evidence Syntheses Differ from Literature Reviews

There’s a lot of confusion surrounding evidence synthesis, with the biggest source of confusion being how evidence syntheses differ from literature reviews. In short, though, literature reviews are scans of the literature that place a research project in context. They discuss, argue, highlight and support the hypothesis upon which the project is based.  Literature reviews make an argument for the project; evidence syntheses are the project and contain literature reviews that argue for them and place them in context.


Evidence Synthesis

Literature Review


Answers a specific research question, identifies evidence gaps, evaluates research in a field, or otherwise examines a highly specific research area in order to draw conclusions or inform practice / further research. Summarizes a topic that may be either broad or narrow

Search Strategy

Uses a pre-determined systematic, comprehensive and replicable search strategy.

Often includes searches of grey literature sources to reduce the risk of publication bias affecting the results.

Searching may be done organically and in a non-prescribed manner.


Selection and inclusion criteria

Systematic search strategy

Appraisal of existing research

Synthesis of findings

Summary of the literature

Context for the paper

Hypotheses or thesis statements


Last modified on December 2, 2023 17:05