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Evidence Synthesis Methods: What is Evidence Synthesis?

A guide to assist SAIT faculty and staff with using evidence synthesis methods such as scoping and systematic reviews

Also referred to as knowledge synthesis, evidence synthesis (ES) is an umbrella term referring to methods that systematically compile and review the research on a particular topic in order to support evidence-informed decision-making and practice as well as inform and guide further research.

According to The Royal Society (2018),

Evidence synthesis refers to the process of bringing together information from a range of sources and disciplines to inform debates and decisions on specific issues… An accurate, concise and unbiased synthesis of the evidence is therefore one of the most valuable contributions the research community can offer policymakers (para. 3).

It is helpful to think of ES as a spectrum of methods that range in terms of structure and rigour. Systematic reviews are one form of ES that you may already be familiar with; there are dozens of other types that may suit your research needs and interests.

The majority of ES methods share these key characteristics:

  • Team-based research: most ES methods should be conducted with two or more researchers in order to manage and limit the risk of bias
  • Exhaustive and reproducible information retrieval: the search strategy should find all relevant research and be documented for transparent reporting and replication
  • A focused, well-formulated, and answerable question

The resources in this guide were selected to assist you in choosing an ES method, preparing a protocol, developing a search strategy, and searching for and synthesizing the literature. Reaching out to your Library Liaison or the Research & Instruction Librarian for support as early as possible in the process is strongly recommended.

Choosing a Method

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