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Systematic Reviews

Eligibility Criteria

Specify study characteristics (e.g., PICOS, length of follow-up) and report characteristics (e.g., years considered, language, publication status) used as criteria for eligibility, giving rationale. 

Think about criteria that will be used to select articles for your literature review based on your research question.  These are commonly known as inclusion criteria and exclusion criteria.  Be aware that you may introduce bias into the final review if these are not used thoughtfully. 

According to the PRISMA checklist (item 6), authors should "specify study characteristics (e.g., PICOS, length of follow-up) and report characteristics (e.g., years considered, language, publication status) used as criteria for eligibility, giving rationale"

Inclusion Criteria

Inclusion criteria are the elements of an article that must be present in order for it to be eligible for inclusion in a literature review.  

For example, included studies must:

  • have compared certain treatments
  • be experimental or observational or both
  • have been published in a certain timeframe (must have compelling reason)
  • be certain publication type(s)
  • have recruited a certain population

Exclusion Criteria

Exclusion criteria are the elements of an article that disqualify the study from inclusion in a literature review.  

For example, excluded studies: 

  • used qualitative methodology
  • used a certain study design (e.g, observational)
  • are a certain publication type (e.g., systematic reviews)
  • were published before a certain year (must have compelling reason)
  • used animal models
  • was published in a language other than English