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Systematic review can be regarded as a process of synthesizing research in a

systematic and transparent manner. Systematic reviews differ from traditional

narrative reviews by adopting a replicable, scientific and transparent process, in
other words a detailed technology, that aims to minimize bias through exhaustive
literature searches of published and unpublished studies and by providing an audit
trail of the reviewers decisions, procedures and conclusions (Cook, Mulrow and
Haynes, 1997). When the researcher has formulated a research question, then the
adoption of a systematic review is highly recommended. However, when your start
probing on a wider paradigm you can adopt the traditional approach of exploratory
studies. During this stage you need to do the mapping exercise so as to focus your
area of research and formulate the research question. Now you can start the systematic
review of all literature that you read.
Adopt a systematic approach such as the template (below) for all documents that you
select as relevant. When deciding relevance to your research apply a mapping
(scoping) exercise (see below). The mapping exercise allows for the areas from the
broader sense to the focus sense. This would eventually assist you in thinking about
significance of your study, limitations of your research and arguments of validity and
reliability of your study.
Mapping exercise would then have to include the authors and year of the papers that
you feel is relevant to your research area.
Remember that when searching papers, report, unpublished papers etc from all
sources, databases etcIts important that you apply proper search techniques i.e.
Boolean, search strings etc.
PhD students
The template can be included or complemented with endnote, This would help
students to analyse data according to the number of studies according to the sub areas,
year of publications, methodological approaches (research design), industry or sector,
country etc. so as to understand the emerging areas, development of conceptual
framework, models, new areas and significance of your research and finally your
research questions. This type of analysis would definitely be a good case for your
upgrade to PhD and finally viva. Most examiners are usually concern that a candidate
has not systematically reviewed all relevant literature in order to argue the basis for
original theory


Main area
Sub area

Research questions

Limitations and Future Research:

Critical review: