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KB7030 Research Methods

Question:
Introduction, Aims and Objectives, Review Question

The Introduction should discuss any contextual and conceptual factors relevant to your review and make the case for why the review is required. It should provide a clear justification for undertaking the review and for the review approach adopted (e.g. why is a systematic or a scoping review the right approach for your question). It should also show clearly that the scope of your review has been informed by the outcomes of your scoping searches. You should end this section by clearly stating your review question and this should be consistent with the PICO, PEO, PICo or PCC framework used to develop the question.

  • Have you provided a clear justification for undertaking a review on the research topic?
  • Does the background identify the major themes, gaps and controversies within your chosen topic?
  • Have you provided evidence that scoping searches have been conducted and shown how they have been used in planning the review?
  • Have you clearly and precisely stated your review question and it is relevant to the topic you have discussed in the background?
  • Is this section supported by appropriate references?
Inclusion & Exclusion Criteria

In this section you should clearly describe, define and justify your inclusion (and exclusion) criteria and frame them using an appropriate tool .

  • Have you provided a clear specification and justification for your proposed inclusion and exclusion criteria?
  • Are your inclusion and exclusion criteria framed using an appropriate tool (PICO, PEO, PICo or PCC)?
Search Strategy

This section should provide your preliminary search strategy. It should specify the databases and additional sources that you will search and also provide example search terms. You should frame your search terms using your PICO, PEO, PICo or PCC tool (as appropriate). This section should also describe your proposed approach for study selection and how you will quality assure the process of study selection.

  • Have you provided detail to demonstrate that you understand the concepts and techniques for conducting a systematic literature search (e.g. by using truncation, combining thesaurus and free text terms etc.)?
  • Have you identified a process for study selection and for how decisions on study selection will be made?
Quality Assessment & Data Extraction

For systematic reviews, this section should describe your proposed approach to quality assessment and data extraction. This should include a process for recording extracted data and some details about the information that will be extracted from your included studies. For systematic reviews, this section should also describe the approach to quality assessment and explain why a particular tool has been selected.

For scoping reviews, this section should describe your proposed approach to data extraction (also referred to as ‘charting’). Scoping review do not typically involve a quality assessment step. This section should describe the process that will be applied to chart the data and a good level provided about the information that will be extracted from the included studies.

For systematic reviews:
  • Is your approach to assessing the methodological quality of included studies described and justified?
  • Have you selected an appropriate quality assessment tool? Does the selected tool assess the quality of all of the types of study designs you will include in your review (i.e. is it fit for purpose)?
  • Have you included details about how the results of the quality assessment will be used?
For both:
  • Have you identified a process for recording your extracted data?
  • Have you described the types of information that will be extracted you’re your included studies? For scoping reviews, are all variables for which data will be sought listed and defined?
Data Analysis & Synthesis Methods

This section should describe your proposed plan and approach to data analysis and synthesis. It should describe a recognised method of synthesis that is consistent with your chosen review approach. The objectives for scoping reviews are different to systematic reviews and this section should also provide details about how the evidence will be presented if the scoping review approach is being followed.

  • Have you specified a clear plan and strategy for your data analysis and synthesis?
  • Is it the appropriate method for the topic, review question and review approach that you have selected?
  • Have you shown that you understand the concepts and techniques for data synthesis for your chosen review approach?
Timeframe

In this section you should provide a time schedule for your proposed systematic or scoping review. It’s a good idea to depict your timeframe graphically, showing the tasks to be completed and identifying key project milestones. Also, show how long you think each task is likely take and if/how different tasks might overlap.

  • Have you suitable identified tasks and project milestones? What are the steps involved in doing your review and when will you do them?
  • Is the timeframe clearly presented and realistic (i.e. it is designed as a student project)?
  • Have you shown that you understand how to plan for and manage a systematic or scoping review?
Final tips
  • Read back through your completed proposal. Have you been consistent in terms of your review question and review approach?
  • Have you chosen the right framework for your review question and review approach?
  • Are the other methods you plan to use consistent with your review question and review approach? For example, if you are doing a systematic review have you selected an appropriate quality assessment tool for the types of evidence that you plan to include in your review.
  • If you’ve chosen to do a scoping review have you provided a clear justification in the Introduction for why this is the right approach for your topic?

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