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Systematic Reviews

Preparing for your Review

When preparing to embark on an evidence synthesis review it is important to:

  • Convene a research team (at least two people, ideally three)
  • Develop a shared understanding of the various types of reviews
  • Search for any existing reviews on your topic
  • Have an approximate timeline for the review
    • Predicter is a tool that can approximate the length of time you will need to conduct your review
  • Determine what tools you will use throughout the process
    • SR Toolbox is an online catalogue of tools to help with various stages of evidence synthesis projects

Developing & Refining your Research Question

Your research question will determine the type of Review you end up embarking on. There are various frameworks for developing a comprehensive research question. A few popular frameworks are outlined below.

Question Frameworks

PICO is often applied to quantitative health research

(if applicable)
Patient or Problem Cause or Treatment Alternative Intervention What affect does the
intervention have?

Example: Indigenous childbearing


Access to antenatal care No antenatal care Maternal and infant outcomes

SPICE is suited for qualitative research, particularly looking at the outcomes of a service, project, or other intervention

Where? For whom? What else? Compared with? With what result?
Rural United States Children Bookmobiles No rural book access program Children demonstrate higher Reading SOL scores


SPIDER is suited to qualitative or mixed methods research topics

Phenomenon of Interest
Research Type
Who is being studied? What are the reasons for behavior? How has the research been collected? What is the outcome? Which types
College students Attending DEI focused campus events Questionnaire, survey, interview, focus group, or observational study Experiences Qualitative or Mixed Method


ECLIPSE is useful for qualitative research that examines the outcome of a policy or service

Client Group
What is being improved or changed? Why? For whom? Where? Measured how? Provided by? Who is involved? What kind of service or policy is this?
to increase access to wireless internet in hospitals patients & families hospitals easy access to free internet IT, hospital admin provision of free wifi to patients