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Conducting a literature review as part of an evidence synthesis

Step-by-step process

1: Creating research questions

  • Identify the purpose of your study.
  • Decide what information is needed.
  • Identify what key research and evaluation questions need to be addressed.
  • Define the research problem.
  • Estimate the feasibility, time constraints and appropriateness of answering the required questions and refine and negotiate questions to be answered if necessary.
  • Consider consulting with key stakeholders or practitioners in the area of interest.

2: Identifying and collecting research

  • Create and document scope of information needed.
  • Create a specific set of guidelines for the collection of information. This will make sure all research collected will be relevant and useful to your synthesis. Examples include details about the:
    • target population
    • program or intervention type
    • use of comparison/control
    • primary outcomes
    • relevance
    • size of study
    • subject area/field or sub-fields
    • publication of effect size or theory basis.
  • Conduct bibliographic searches and verify that articles are accessible. See the new and existing research page for ideas and tips).

3: Choosing the right research

4: Summarising research

  • Summarise the findings for each research piece found.
  • Pull information together and create a summary relating back to your research questions, including:
    • any key elements
    • emerging themes
    • consistent or inconsistent research evidence
    • results from meta-analyses
    • results of statistical significance.
  • Create a documented summary of these steps in a separate report, including:
    • the background and purpose
    • how the literature review was conducted
    • what the literature tells us (if anything) including conclusions that can be drawn when answering the research question
    • indications of future research including any gaps in the knowledge that needs to be addressed
    • limitations of the review
    • aspects of the review can be stated with confidence/less confidence
    • any research inconsistencies
    • implications for policy and the department. 
  • Provide a copy to experts in the area of research for advice and feedback, where applicable.

Contact

Research and Evaluation

Phone: 8226 1206
Email: decd.researchunit [at] sa.gov.au