In the module 2 assignment, you were asked to find primary authored research studies. Primary authored research studies are those that explain a single study and are written by the person who conducted a study.
In this module, your assignment will focus on systematic reviews. Systematic reviews include an exhaustive search of the literature and summarize the findings of many studies. The author of the systematic review did not conduct the research studies being reviewed.
A systematic review is much more rigorous than a literature review or an expository piece. Within a systematic review, the author will discuss their search strategy, search results, and how they filtered and selected the evidence in the review. Most will have a diagram that walks the reader through the filtering process. It is very important for this assignment that you are using systematic reviews, and not primary authored research articles or expository pieces.
Our module assignment is due Sunday. In the assignment you are asked to identify the level of evidence for each of the research articles you selected. You will be utilizing Melnyk’s levels of evidence from your course readings. Well-supported rationale will be required.
Identifying the level of evidence is important in determining whether the strength of the evidence justifies a change to practice. When thinking of making a practice change, would you trust a cluster of randomized trials? Or a cluster of opinion-based literature reviews? You can see how the strength of the evidence is just as important as the evidence itself.
One area that I see students particularly struggle with is the difference between expository/literature reviews and systematic reviews. The primary difference between the two is that systematic reviews conduct an exhaustive search of the literature and consider pieces that both support and dispute the author’s hypothesis. This type of review will clearly outline the search strategy, databases used, number of results, how the literature was filtered, and selection/rejection criteria.
In comparison, an expository piece may refer to some literature but it is often selected by the author to support his/her claim. This is a very low level of evidence because it doesn’t take into account all available literature on the topic. For example, a practice issue could have 15 high-level studies that oppose the author’s opinion, and 2 studies that support the author’s opinion. In an expository piece, the author may choose to only use those two studies that support and give a false impression.
While expository articles are typically easier to read and interpret, they are not considered sufficient evidence to support a change in practice.
I look forward to reviewing your presentations for module 3. Keep up the great work!