Before you start your review, explore existing reviews. You don't have to reinvent the wheel.
Look to existing reviews as guides that can:
- provide examples for how to conduct your own systematic review
- eligibility criteria you may want to incorporate into your own protocol
- relevant databases to include in your search strategy
- relevant search terms you may want to use or adapt (note that if you use part of a search strategy from a published review, this should be cited)
- help you to identify relevant articles from related reviews
- demonstrate where your review fits into the scholarly conversation and enable you to acknowledge the existence of related reviews in your introduction
Is there another systematic review that has already been published on your topic? If so, there may still be a reason for you to write your own, such as:
- The existing systematic review is old, new research has been published, and thus it is in need of updating
- The quality of the existing systematic review is methodologically suspect. Use a critical appraisal tool such as the JBI "Checklist for Systematic Reviews and Research Syntheses" to evaluate quality.
- The existing systematic review focuses on different outcomes or uses different eligibility criteria than your systematic review will use.
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