- Resources by discipline
- Database tip sheets
- Software and tools
- Select guidelines
- Reporting standards
- Protocol registries
- Search filters
- Critical appraisal
Resources by Discipline
While the core traits of knowledge synthesis remain the same across disciplines, different disciplines may prefer different guidelines, have different registries, and/or use different searching tools. We have summarized some of the preferred resources for the disciplines which use KS most often in the documents below.
Database Tip Sheets
These database tip sheets do not cover general usage of any database, but instead focus on select complicated tools that are commonly used in knowledge synthesis and that even advanced searchers might not reasonably be expected to know. For more general database tips and tricks, please refer to the Library's Help Videos.
- EBSCOhost Databases
- Ovid MedLine
- ProQuest Nursing and Allied Health
- Association of Computer Machinery (ACM) Digital Library
- IEEE Xplore Digital Library
- Inspec (Engineering Village)
Software and Tools
UNB Libraries subscribes to the popular systematic review support software Covidence. Covidence is a web-based tool that will help you through the process of screening your references, data extraction, and keeping track of you work. It is particularly useful for researchers conducting a systematic review, meta-analysis or clinical guideline. To learn more about Covidence, or to sign up for access through our institutional subscription, visit our organizational Covidence webpage.
There are also other tools that are available that support specific parts of the process in one way or another. For instance, there are tools specifically designed to support search strategy development, data extraction, and risk of bias assessments. A list of some of these tools can be found here. Please note: the inclusion of an item on the list does not imply UNB Libraries' endorsement of the tool. Select and use tools from this list at your own discretion.
Guidelines provide a description of how a high quality knowledge synthesis should be performed. Three of the most well-known of these are the ones produced by the Campbell Collaboration, the Cochrane Library, and JBI (the top three guidelines linked below), however there are a number of other guidelines available and the extensive detail in those top three guidelines should be used with consideration for the needs indicated in more discipline specific resources (linked both below and in the discipline links above).
- Campbell Collaboration: A multidisciplinary guide to knowledge synthesis methodology.
- Cochrane Handbooks: A collection of reference guides to support researchers conducting a Cochrane Review.
- JBI Manual for Evidence Synthesis: A comprehensive guide that supports 10 different types of knowledge synthesis.
- IOM Standards for Systematic Reviews: 21 standards for performing a quality systematic review.
- NHS Centre for Reviews and Dissemination : A free guide on performing systematic reviews.
- Systematic Reviews for Animals & Food: A collection of resources to support the steps of the review process.
- The Collaboration for Environmental Evidence: Guidelines for knowledge synthesis methodologies in environmental management.
- Guidelines for Systematic Review in Conservation and Environmental Management: Paper published in Conservation Biology by A. Pullin (2006).
- Literature Review as a Research Methodology: An Overview and Guidelines: Paper published in Journal of Business Research by H. H. Snyder (2019).
- Shades of Grey: Guidelines for Working with the Grey Literature in Systematic Reviews for Management and Organizational Studies: Paper published in International Journal of Management Reviews by R.J. Adams (2017).
Reporting standards offer guidance on what information should be shared in the review regarding its process and methodology. By far the most well-known of the standards is produced by PRISMA, which produces several guidelines that differ by synthesis type and methodological aspect.
- PRISMA - Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analysis: The most popular reporting standards used in systematic reviews. PRISMA also provides reporting standards for various other types of knowledge synthesis (including protocols).
- JARS Quant - Quantitative Meta-analysis Reporting Standards : The APA’s knowledge synthesis reporting guidelines.
- Systematic Review Checklist: A Standardized Technique for Assessing and Reporting Reviews of Life Cycle Assessment Data (LCA): Based on the 2009 PRISMA guidelines, but specialized for LCA.
Because of the significance of undertaking a quality knowledge synthesis, there are protocol registries that allow researchers to share their intent to publish on a topic prior to completion of the review. Protocol registries should be used both to notify the research community of your intent to publish, and to ensure that no one else has already done so on your topic.
- PROSPERO: A well-known registry for knowledge synthesis protocols on health-related topics.
- JBI Systematic Review Register: A registry of published JBI protocols.
- Open Science Framework Registries: A multidisciplinary registry for knowledge synthesis protocols.
Search filters, also called hedges, are pre-assembled search strings for specific topics. While search filters vary in quality and design, they offer an excellent basis for new searches and - in some cases - may replace one component of a search entirely. For instance, the Cochrane RCT search filter is excellent and can easily replace any other such narrowing option. When using a search filter (either in part or in whole) or when using a substantive portion of a search from another review, it is expected that the source be cited and the creator given credit.
There are many places you may look for search filters, like:
- ES providers and publishers
- University ES Guides
- Search filters can also be published in articles and are searchable in databases by searching for "search filters" or "search hedges"
Critical appraisal (also called 'risk of bias assessment') is a step used in some kinds of evidence synthesis in which each article selected for inclusion in the final review is appraised for quality and likelihood of bias. There are many critical appraisal tools available, with some tools being preferred by (or more appropriate in) certain disciplines. A selection of the more common tools is below:
- JBI Critical Appraisal Tools
- Typically only used for JBI reviews
- 12 checklists – one each for 12 different kinds of studies
- Their “Checklist for text and opinions” can be used for grey literature
- Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) Checklists
- 8 checklists
- No checklists for grey literature
- Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (CEBM) Checklists
- 6 Checklists
- Some checklists available in multiple languages (including Chinese, German, Lithuanian, and Persian)
- Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) Checklists
- Major producer of clinical practice guidelines
- 6 Checklists
This section contains one-off content that has been created to provide comprehensive answers to common questions.
- Using Google Scholar in Evidence Synthesis
- Using Google Scholar for Grey Literature
- Predatory Journals and Article Retractions in Knowledge Synthesis
- Preprints in Knowledge Synthesis
- Sample Knowledge Syntheses
- Knowledge Synthesis Resources at UNB Libraries
- Article: Which academic search systems are suitable for systematic reviews or meta-analyses? Evaluating retrieval qualities of Google Scholar, PubMed, and 26 other resources
- Article: Use of text mining tools in the development of search strategies – Comparison of different approaches