systematic literature reviews

systematic literature reviews

The Importance and Methodology of Systematic Literature Reviews in Academic Research

1. Introduction to Systematic Literature Reviews

Almost every journal, article, research report, or dissertation on a master’s and Ph.D. level begins with a review of the literature. In addition to the extensive use of literature to develop research ideas or systematically develop the theoretical issues, a review of the literature also offers diagnostic information that leads researchers to conclude why such and such problems are present, how to measure problems, and how to determine the cause as well as the relationship of the variables or problems with each other. The review of literature or secondary data has the capability to provide combined insights drawn together from a variety of distinct experiences. As one of the best sources of knowledge to facilitate problem analysis, review of literature offers a very useful source of knowledge for researchers to get some insight or gain a rich understanding of an identified problem.

Scholars conduct research to know what is already known in a particular field or what others have written or researched about over the years. One of the ways to achieve this is through the use of literature. Although there is some debate that research can be done without any use of literature, evidence-based research remains incomplete without the utilization of related sources of information. The sources of information mostly utilized in research are the ideas, refutations, and evidence provided by past authors, experts, journals, other literature, and the experiences provided by past research or theories in order to pave the right direction for the betterment of the existing as well as contribution to a new theory.

2. Key Steps in Conducting a Systematic Literature Review

Summary is also a global coding function. Summary of quantitative research is about creating a characterization of the study by aggregating or adding details from its elements, characteristics, or variables. The main objective is that coding study details like interventions, populations, study designs, methods, or any other aspect should pertain to study objectives. CONFIGURE can perform this function, but use of review types as the taxonomy might be more useful to reviewers than answering a tree of questions with binary answers. In its fullest, this accomplishes the data summaries needed for systematic and scoping purposes, presenting the purpose of the data summary and the training format. CM and MF have a code interrelation requiring a distinction between the nature of information discovered and the details related to report sections. Analysis can be used to answer any review question, but its competencies are shared with both Find and Interpret, although it has no explicit subcomponents.

2.4. Research Summary

The first question asked in SMS is a binary question (i.e., a yes or no question). In SMS, the question is about the presence of the software process model element. In coding quantitative research, it is critical to begin subsetting study characteristics with a question that has the potential for being directly measurable or at least lead to the subsequent traceable concepts or variables. The question asked in PASSE is categorical; comparison questions are all about category, as is the work product that results from applying the comparison elements. During the screening stage, it is critical to evaluate completions by asking at what stage of the process objective the work product was created. Coroutine can be used to manage any review project, although the structure of SMS is tailor-made for mapping software practice research, especially question 5 inquiries related to work product.

2.3. The Methodology of Each Stage

The first step in conducting a systematic literature review is to carefully define and plan the most pertinent type of review to undertake and, more importantly, why it is crucial to undertake. As already stated, the aim of the paper is to describe the process undertaken to conduct a literature review. Two approaches are crucial to maximizing the chance that the review yields pertinent, valid, and unbiased information, namely, conducting an all-inclusive, thorough, and up-to-date literature search, and rigid adherence to predefined eligibility criteria. Two main research ideas have been identified during the literature review. Careful adherence to these explicit, formal, and standardized review procedures can diminish the chance of bias in the methodological process, making the result more trustworthy.

2.2. Formulating a Research Question

But how does one actually do a systematic literature review? This is a question often asked both by researchers who are new to the concept, and those who are more experienced. As noted in the introduction, the purpose of this paper is to provide practitioners with a step-by-step guide to conducting a systematic literature review report. This complies with the published criteria of the stated aims and reduces the reporting bias that can arise. A literature review, on the other hand, provides a detailed comprehensive examination of the previous work and can be used to identify research opportunities and priorities, to serve as a resource for future research and teaching, and to provide a framework to inform and address important theoretical and research questions. Systematic review methodology, such as that which is formalized in the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses Statement (PRISMA), plays a vital role in clinical research.

2.1. Introduction

3. Tools and Techniques for Systematic Literature Reviews

Furthermore, project management techniques and critical success factors (CSFs) necessary for the successful execution and completion of an SLR are highlighted in previous research. Although these methodologies are effective, they are also costly and time-consuming, so their usage is limited. Their implementation should consider the context, the goal, the process, and the social environment of the explained settings. In addition, project management techniques and critical success factors (CSFs) necessary for the successful execution and completion of this type of research are generally not reported.

Evaluated tools for SLRs include checklists, guidelines, and project management software. Available checklists and guidelines commonly used are PRISMA, AMSTA, QUOROM, QUADAS, AMSTAR, and PRESS. Each study might have different project management approaches, and there are some factors that the SLR team should consider before deciding which methodology tool to use. These factors include the number of reviewers that will conduct the eligibility and data extraction of the included studies, what tool can be implemented into data analysis of the included studies, and the search process to apply in order to guarantee the quality of the results and to ensure the validity of the review itself.

During the planning phase, there are tools that could help the interested researcher to define and answer the research question boldly while being specific and clear. They mainly assist in extracting and managing data and in finding errors in references and data, thereby making data and references digitized and ensuring their correctness in replicating the study. This is important to reduce human error.

(1) Search engines such as Google Scholar, Springer, Scopus, and Web of Science. (2) Reference management software such as Endnote, Mendeley, Zotero, and Refworks. (3) Software tools and web servers such as PUBSCIENT, Sysrev, Rayyan, Exemplar, Evidence Pipeline System (EPS), Better Systematic Review Management, Data Extraction Assistant for Resources of Systematic Reviews, and Colandr.

To complete a systematic literature review (SLR) successfully, there are different tools available to ease the process. These tools could be categorized into several groups:

4. Common Challenges and Solutions in Systematic Literature Reviews

First, a risk exists for subjective literature selection based on ambiguous research boundaries when the review team has extensive background knowledge on a research area. This concern is often addressed through employing a team from different domains of study or using categorized peer review to eliminate biased interpretation. Additionally, subjective interpretation during the abstraction stage generates several potential problems as well. Obtained information can become too general or vague, resulting in poor abstraction. Such confusion about the focus of the review should be reduced by specifically defining review guidelines and purposes during protocol definition. However, despite clear handbook definitions, applied abstraction guidelines vary, and no framework for referencing a proper approach exists. To enhance the transparency of empirical abstraction and transmission, adequate classification related with the abstraction is required. These challenges should consistently maintain the quality and validity when conducting systematic literature reviews to ensure its widespread implementation across areas of academic research.

To minimize the risk of biased and invalid conclusions from systematic literature reviews, potential limitations and challenges of systematic review methodology should be anticipated and solutions found. Challenges are categorically divided between subjectivity associated with literature selection and information retrieval, and quality of literature when assessment is carried out.

5. Impact and Future Trends of Systematic Literature Reviews

A continual increase in the use of systematic literature reviews and related evidence-based decision making is crucial to progress our field. Although systematic literature reviews in software engineering are relatively under-developed compared with other fields, they are on the increase. We believe that the future of systematic literature reviews in software engineering has three key trends, supported by potential future methods for conducting them. The trends are: methodological improvement, breadth of application, and closer collaboration with practice. It is the responsibility of methodologists, reviewers, and consumers of evidence to work to support these trends. Failure will result in continued potential loss of impact. There are many factors that help us develop trends, and to conclude our work, we discuss some of the key enablers of the trends we have identified. We can only scratch the surface of this important future research agenda in this article. We look forward to seeing many exciting developments in systematic literature reviews and their application in software engineering research and practice in the years to come.

The rise of systematic literature reviews in conjunction with the creation of the evidence base demonstrates their significance in contributing to the improvement of software engineering research and practice. Despite the compelling advantages of systematic literature reviews in addressing identified weaknesses in the extant software engineering research, we observe that they are rather underutilized, with final evidence weaker than the individual evidence available within the studies considered. There is a large opportunity for improving final system capability if systematic literature review evidence is more widely employed. This opportunity places responsibility on both those conducting and the consumers of software engineering research. The adoption of systematic literature reviews in the research process is crucial if we are to improve the contribution of software engineering research. We encourage researchers to deepen our collective understanding of the true nature of software engineering phenomena, and the conditions under which they occur.

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