The review team is responsible for managing and conducting the SR. In order to minimize bias and produce a high quality SR, multidisciplinary teams of three or more qualified individuals should be organized.
First time reviewers should work with others who are experienced in the process.
The team should consist of the following:
Potential conflicts of interest (COI) should be disclosed for each team member, including financial, professional or intellectual bias. Consideration for exclusion should be given for individuals whose COI may diminish credibility of the review.
Develop a focused, clearly defined, answerable and well-formulated question.
The following factors should be considered when formulating a research question:
Formulating a precise question can be difficult. The PICO mnemonic is a structured format used to improve the scientific rigor of a SR.
Image Source: http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=13059&page=68
Click here to learn more about PICO
Conducting a SR is a time consuming process. Before embarking on the process, the team should ensure that another SR does not already exist. It is useful to search the following databases for completed SRs or protocols for those in progress.
A protocol is a detailed description of the objectives and methods of the review. It is important for several reasons:
Source: Shamseer (2015)
It is common to amend protocols after the review has started. Common reasons include extending the period of search to include older and newer studies, broadening eligibility criteria, and adding new analyses suggested by the primary analysis. Researchers should not modify the protocol based on knowledge of the results of analyses. IOM - standards for SR paper.
The Cochrane Group provides an example of a timeline for a 12 month review:
Image Source: Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions Version 5.1.0