Synthesis is a stage in the review process where extracted data are pooled together and evaluated.
It is one of the most important stages of the review process, as it determines the outcomes of the review.
The synthesis stage includes:
In a quantitative systematic review, which explores similar studies, data can be processed as a narrative describing the different findings or can be processed through a meta-analysis if the data is comparable.
During meta-analysis, data from different studies are weighted depending on their sample size and relevant criteria, and evaluated to determine the cumulative outcome.
Please see the Meta-analysis guide for more information.
In a qualitative systematic review, data will be synthesised by comprehensive critical appraisal through either a meta-study or a meta-synthesis.
Neither of these methods involves the reanalysis of raw data from the primary qualitative studies.
Both meta-studies and meta-syntheses can be used to determine what is known and what is not known, reflect on the processes and perspectives of the relevant body of research, explore the underlying methodological decisions and theoretical influences, and suggest future directions for researchers, theoreticians and clinicians.
Adapted from the Monash University Systematic Review libguide.
For a meta analysis, producing a forest plot may be necessary.
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