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Systematic Reviews

This guide lists resources related to conducting a Systematic Review.

Identify your research question

First, you must have a clearly defined research question. What problem are you trying to address by conducting the review? The research question is often developed after performing preliminary research on the subject, ensuring that it is viable for a systematic review. The research problem should be a structured and unambiguous question. The question should not be changed once the review process has begun, as the review protocol needs to be formed around the question.

There are many acronyms that are used to frame a research question. Some of the most common are listed below.

The PICO(S) Model: Quantitative Research

Quantitative Questions aim to discover cause and effect relationships by comparing two or more individuals or groups based on differing outcomes associated with exposures or interventions.

P - Patient/Population

I - Intervention

C - Comparison (optional)

O - Outcome (optional)

S - Study design (optional)


In emergency room visitors, do hand sanitizing stations result in fewer in-hospital infections when compared with no hand sanitizing stations over a year-long pilot period?

P - Emergency room visitors

I - Hand sanitizing stations

C -  No hand sanitizing stations 

O - Fewer in-hospital infections 

The PS Model: Qualitative Research

Qualitative Questions aim to discover meaning or gain an understanding of a phenomena.  They ask about an individual's or population's experience of certain situations or circumstances.

P - Patient/Population

- Situation


How do caregiver-spouses of Alzheimer patients experience placing their spouse in a nursing home?

P - Caregiver-spouses of Alzheimer patients

S - Placing their spouse in a nursing home

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