Who's Doing Systematic Reviews?: A Descriptive Analysis
Background & Objective:
Over the past several decades, systematic reviews have become a major part of the biomedical research literature landscape. While systematic reviews were originally developed for medicine and its related fields, they are now published in other disciplines. Our initial goal was to broadly investigate and describe the non-health sciences subject areas and disciplines that are publishing systematic reviews. Specifically, our research questions were,“What disciplines outside of the health sciences are adopting systematic reviews as a research method?” and “What implications may this have for health sciences librarianship?” Based on our initial findings, we will propose avenues for future research.
Methods & Discussion:
We conducted a search in the Scopus database to serve as a representative sample of the research literature. We searched for the phrase “systematic review*” in the article title or abstract, and limited the results to review articles from journals. We filtered out articles published in health sciences disciplines using the Scopus subject categories, and examined the articles that remained. The resulting set of titles was screened by two independent reviewers in a stepwise fashion. First we read the titles, then the abstracts, then the full text of remaining articles to determine if each was a systematic review and addressed a topic outside of the health sciences. We reconciled any differences for citations on which there was not initial consensus between reviewers. Lastly, we examined each remaining article to categorize its subject area or discipline. Our initial search included a number of systematic reviews outside the health science disciplines, and will yield data that has implications for librarians in the health sciences and in disciplines outside the health sciences field.