Systematic Reviews in the Social Sciences - A Practical Guide


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Table of Contents

Foreword (William R. Shadish).



Chapter 1: Why do we need systematic reviews?

Chapter 2: Starting the review: Refining the question and defining the boundaries.

Chapter 3: What sorts of studies do I include in the review? Deciding on the review's inclusion / exclusion criteria.

Chapter 4: How to find the studies: The literature search.

Chapter 5: How to appraise the studies: An introduction to assessing study quality.

Chapter 6: Synthesising the evidence.

Chapter 7: Exploring heterogeneity and publication bias.

Chapter 8: Disseminating the review.

Chapter 9: Systematic reviews: Urban myths and fairy tales.


Appendix 1: The review process (and some questions to ask before starting a review).

Appendix 2: MOOSE Guidelines.

Appendix 3: Example of flow diagram from a systematic review.

Appendix 4: Example data extraction form.

Appendix 5: Variations in the quality of systematic reviews.



About the Author

Mark Petticrew is an associate director of the MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit at the University of Glasgow, Co-ordinator of the ESRC Centre for Evidence-Based Public Health Policy, and has written widely on systematic reviews.

Helen Roberts is a social scientist, and professor of Child Health at City University, where she leads the Child Health Research and Policy Unit. Until 2001 she was Head of R&D at Barnardos. Her most recent book is What Works for Children (ed) with Di McNeish and Tony Newman.


"The book is noteworthy in terms of its comprehensive coverage of issues and inclusive perspective with respect to study inclusion, study quality assessment and findings synthesis. The guide’s ecumenical’ perspective is certainly a strength inasmuch as different readers will find inspiration and interesting suggestions on how to conduct different types of SR." (Political Studies Review, May 2009)

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