Claimed vs suggested review types of the articles

The following heatmap illustrates the correlation between the suggested review types of the included articles vs the review types they were claimed to be.  

Definitions for the review types are given in the table below.

Review type Description Comments

Systematic review

  • Methods and scope of the review are predetermined (e.g. in a protocol, registration) 
  • Comprehensive search performed to find (almost) all relevant studies on a given topic 
  • Explicit criteria to include/exclude studies
  • Quality of individual included studies is apprised
  • Describes explicit methods used to extract and synthesise (qualitatively or quantitatively) study findings

Sometimes named as meta-analysis


Systematic map

  •  Systematic review that aims to show gaps and gluts in evidence, often via extensive tables and graphics

Sometimes named as systematic review, or evidence map


  • Systematic review (or rapid review) that includes statistical analysis of effect sizes, ideally using formal meta-analytical statistical models

There are different types/definitions of meta-analysis

Rapid review

  • Searched sources are limited due to time constraints of searching
  • Search methods transparent and reproducible.
  • Selection based on inclusion/exclusion criteria
  • Critical and rigorous appraisal of studies, but not in depth
  • Descriptive summary or categorization of data, may be partially quantitative

Sometimes named as systematic review

Scoping review

  •  Broad search scope, often comprehensive
  • Aims to describe existing literature in terms of volume, distribution, features
  • Can clarify working definitions and conceptual boundaries of a topic or field
  • Can identify gaps and trends in the literature/research

Sometimes named as systematic review

Narrative review

  •  Descriptive summary of previous work.
  • Does not specify methods by which the reviewed studies were identified, 
  • selected and evaluated
  • Possible biases in selecting and assessing the literature
  • Cannot be replicated