Background & Objective:
Originally developed for medicine and related fields in support of evidence-based practice, systematic reviews (SRs) are now published in other fields. We investigated non-health sciences disciplines that are publishing systematic reviews.
“What disciplines outside the health sciences are adopting systematic reviews?”
“How do systematic reviews outside the health sciences compare with health sciences systematic reviews?”
We conducted a search in the Scopus database for articles with the phrase “systematic review*” in the title or abstract. We limited our results to review articles, and eliminated health science focused articles using the Scopus Subject area categories. Articles were examined by reviewers to determine if they a) were classified as SRs by the authors b) exhibited accepted characteristics of systematic reviews, such as a comprehensive search, adherence to a predetermined protocol, and assessment of bias and quality, and c) addressed a non-health sciences topic. We eliminated articles based on 1) title, 2) abstract, and finally 3) the full text of each article. We reconciled differences for articles on which there was not initial consensus, and grouped remaining articles according to Scopus subject areas.
We found a significant number of systematic reviews outside the health science disciplines, particularly in the physical and social sciences. We compared similarities as well as differences to the protocols and processes used in health sciences systematic reviews. These findings have implications for librarians both inside and outside the health sciences arena who participate in systematic review projects.