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Systematic Reviews in the Social Sciences: A Practical Guide

ISBN: 978-1-4051-2110-1
352 pages
December 2005, Wiley-Blackwell
Systematic Reviews in the Social Sciences: A Practical Guide (1405121106) cover image
Such diverse thinkers as Lao-Tze, Confucius, and U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld have all pointed out that we need to be able to tell the difference between real and assumed knowledge. The systematic review is a scientific tool that can help with this difficult task. It can help, for example, with appraising, summarising, and communicating the results and implications of otherwise unmanageable quantities of data.

This book, written by two highly-respected social scientists, provides an overview of systematic literature review methods:


  • Outlining the rationale and methods of systematic reviews;
  • Giving worked examples from social science and other fields;
  • Applying the practice to all social science disciplines;
  • It requires no previous knowledge, but takes the reader through the process stage by stage;
  • Drawing on examples from such diverse fields as psychology, criminology, education, transport, social welfare, public health, and housing and urban policy, among others.
  • Including detailed sections on assessing the quality of both quantitative, and qualitative research; searching for evidence in the social sciences;
    meta-analytic and other methods of evidence synthesis; publication bias; heterogeneity; and approaches to dissemination.
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Foreword (William R. Shadish).

Acknowledgments.

Preface.

Chapter 1: Why do we need systematic reviews?

Chapter 2: Starting the review: Refining the question and defining the boundaries.

Chapter 3: What sorts of studies do I include in the review? Deciding on the review's inclusion / exclusion criteria.

Chapter 4: How to find the studies: The literature search.

Chapter 5: How to appraise the studies: An introduction to assessing study quality.

Chapter 6: Synthesising the evidence.

Chapter 7: Exploring heterogeneity and publication bias.

Chapter 8: Disseminating the review.

Chapter 9: Systematic reviews: Urban myths and fairy tales.

Glossary.

Appendix 1: The review process (and some questions to ask before starting a review).

Appendix 2: MOOSE Guidelines.

Appendix 3: Example of flow diagram from a systematic review.

Appendix 4: Example data extraction form.

Appendix 5: Variations in the quality of systematic reviews.

Bibliography.

Index.

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Mark Petticrew is an associate director of the MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit at the University of Glasgow, Co-ordinator of the ESRC Centre for Evidence-Based Public Health Policy, and has written widely on systematic reviews.

Helen Roberts is a social scientist, and professor of Child Health at City University, where she leads the Child Health Research and Policy Unit. Until 2001 she was Head of R&D at Barnardos. Her most recent book is What Works for Children (ed) with Di McNeish and Tony Newman.

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  • Overview of systematic literature review methods;
  • Written by two highly-respected social scientists;
  • Outlines the rationale and methods of systematic reviews;
  • Gives worked examples from social science and other field;
  • Applies to all social science disciplines;
  • Requires no previous knowledge, but takes the reader through the process stage by stage;
  • Draws on examples from such diverse fields as psychology, criminology, education, transport, social welfare, public health, and housing and urban policy, among others;
  • Includes detailed sections on assessing the quality of both quantitative, and qualitative research; searching for evidence in the social sciences;
    meta-analytic and other methods of evidence synthesis; publication bias; heterogeneity; and approaches to dissemination.
See More
"The book is noteworthy in terms of its comprehensive coverage of issues and inclusive perspective with respect to study inclusion, study quality assessment and findings synthesis. The guide’s ecumenical’ perspective is certainly a strength inasmuch as different readers will find inspiration and interesting suggestions on how to conduct different types of SR." (Political Studies Review, May 2009)

"Anyone who wants to learn, or understand, about systematic reviewing should beg, borrow, steal or buy a copy ofSystematic Reviews in the Social Sciences. It's a real gold-mine of information presented clearly and with great humour".
Sir Michael Rawlins, Chairman, National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), UK

"This book is a veritable compendium – it richly combines history and cutting edge debates in social policy, care and public health with practical recommendations for high quality syntheses of relevant research. I strongly recommend this to those in public health and social care interested in understanding what works for whom and why."
Elizabeth Waters, Deakin University, Australia

"The importance and value of systematic reviews for the social sciences, policy making and professional practice is only now being fully appreciated. This book by Petticrew and Roberts is a comprehensive, thorough and very readable practical guide. It is a must for all social scientists who want to know how to harness existing social science evidence and identify what we know and what we don't."
Philip Davies, Government Social Research Unit, Cabinet Office, UK

"Finding out what we really know is the fundamental challenge in all attempts to improve life on planet earth. This book provides an excellently readable introduction to the principles and practice of systematic reviews - the major tool of a policy-relevant social science. The authors have done a magnificent job in making a convincing case for systematic reviews, in dispelling distracting myths about such reviews as purely technical procedures limited to 'what works?' questions, and most of all in providing the social science research and policy community with the invaluable resource of a practical how-to-do it guide."
–Professor Ann Oakley, Professor of Sociology & Social Policy and Founding Director of Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London

"Engaging and relevant, this book is both an explanation of and a practical guide to constructing and doing systematic reviews... [it] has given me a route into understanding this area of research and a basis to improve critical appraisal of others' work."
Connie Smith, Senior Research Specialist, The Scottish Parliament Information Centre. Social Research Association News, August 2006

"Petticrew and Roberts – while providing a rigorous and impeccably academic treatment of their subject – include numerous lighter moments which help maintain the reader’s interest...The authors are to be commended for tackling an important topic in an informative yet enjoyable manner – this book is highly recommended."
Jeremy J. Walker, Foundation for the Sociology of Health and Illness, June 2007

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