Overview of Systematic Reviews and Research Syntheses
What Are Systematic Reviews and Research Syntheses?
A systematic review follows a set of written procedures to find, evaluate, and synthesize the results of relevant research. Procedures are explicitly defined in advance to ensure that the research methods are transparent and can be replicated. This practice is also designed to minimize bias.
Similarly, a research synthesis is the practice of systematically distilling and integrating data from a variety of sources of literature to draw more reliable conclusions about a given question or topic.
KTDRR’s Role in Systematic Reviews and Research Syntheses
KTDRR offers resources for researchers to conduct systematic reviews and syntheses of disability research. With customized training and technical assistance (TA) activities, we work to increase the use of valid and relevant evidence-based research findings. In addition, we focus on sharing information from systematic reviews and research syntheses to help individuals with disabilities of all ages and their family members, disability advocates, service providers, researchers, educators, employers, administrators, policy makers, and others make informed decisions.
Who Uses Systematic Reviews and Research Syntheses?
For researchers, systematic reviews and research syntheses help to define the evidence base related to a specific problem and to identify gaps in knowledge or research.
For practitioners, systematic reviews establish sound support for clinical practice guidelines.
Similarly, policy makers can draw on research summaries based on systematic reviews and research syntheses to guide their decisions.
Individuals with disabilities, their families, and service providers may directly seek out research when making important decisions. Increased access to and use of high-quality research findings, especially if synthesized, can do much to improve the opportunities and quality of life for individuals with disabilities.
KTDRR Systematic Review and Research Syntheses Tools, Resources, and Communities
- Resources for Conducting Systematic Reviews highlights tools and resources that support the conducting of systematic reviews.
- The Plain Language Summary Tool (PLST) is a web-based tool that guides authors through the process of writing a plain language summary of a systematic review. (Offline for maintenance as of 3/19/19.)
- The Registry of Systematic Reviews of Disability and Rehabilitation Research is a collection of systematic reviews of research studies on topics related to disabilities and rehabilitation.
- The Directory of Journals and Author Guidelines includes information about research journals in the fields of disability and rehabilitation.
- Online and In-Person Training Activities cover systematic review methods, standards, and guidelines. Subscribe to the KT Update e-newsletter to stay up-to-date on future free training opportunities.
- Technical Assistance (TA) is available at no charge to help grantees of the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) complete systematic reviews and research syntheses. For TA, complete a TA request form.
- The Campbell Collaboration’s Disability Coordinating Group (DCG) provides resources for researchers who are developing high-quality systematic reviews in the disability-related research. For more information about this group, email Joann Starks.
- Assessing the Quality and Applicability of Systematic Reviews (AQASR) is a checklist to help busy clinicians, administrators, and researchers assess the strengths and weaknesses of systematic reviews.
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