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Systematic Reviews: Questions, Methods and Usage


  • Hansen, Henrik
  • Trifkovic, Neda


While their application in the context of development aid is quite new, systematic reviews have been used and debated in other fields for various decades. Although evidence gathering and synthesis in the context of development aid inarguably faces challenges distinct from other fields, it is expected that experiences about systematic review methodology from other contexts can provide useful inputs to the field of development aid evaluation. Systematic reviews operate in a complex multidisciplinary environment, which requires acknowledging the influence of institutions and social interaction. The Evaluation Study suggests that the scarcity of comparable evidence about the effects of development interventions necessitates that authors of systematic reviews change their strategies when assessing the strength of evidence or synthesizing data. The focus on asking the ‘right’ questions in international development reviews is important precisely because no review process is immune to bias. The study emphasizes that since systematic reviews in international development may be vulnerable to a range of biases. Systematic reviews should not aim, at all cost, at pursuing the classical approach suitable for traditional, ‘easy-to-measure’ situations.

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  • Hansen, Henrik & Trifkovic, Neda, 2013. "Systematic Reviews: Questions, Methods and Usage," MPRA Paper 47993, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:47993

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Campbell, Rona & Pound, Pandora & Pope, Catherine & Britten, Nicky & Pill, Roisin & Morgan, Myfanwy & Donovan, Jenny, 2003. "Evaluating meta-ethnography: a synthesis of qualitative research on lay experiences of diabetes and diabetes care," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 56(4), pages 671-684, February.
    2. Hugh Waddington & Howard White & Birte Snilstveit & Jorge Garcia Hombrados & Martina Vojtkova & Philip Davies & Ami Bhavsar & John Eyers & Tracey Perez Koehlmoos & Mark Petticrew & Jeffrey C. Valentin, 2012. "How to do a good systematic review of effects in international development: a tool kit," Journal of Development Effectiveness, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 4(3), pages 359-387, September.
    3. Maren Duvendack & Jorge Garcia Hombrados & Richard Palmer-Jones & Hugh Waddington, 2012. "Assessing ‘what works’ in international development: meta-analysis for sophisticated dummies," Journal of Development Effectiveness, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 4(3), pages 456-471, September.
    4. Howard White & Hugh Waddington, 2012. "Why do we care about evidence synthesis? An introduction to the special issue on systematic reviews," Journal of Development Effectiveness, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 4(3), pages 351-358, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Laurenz Langer & Ruth Stewart, 2014. "What have we learned from the application of systematic review methodology in international development? - a thematic overview," Journal of Development Effectiveness, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(3), pages 236-248, September.

    More about this item


    Systetmatic Reviews; International Development;

    JEL classification:

    • C0 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - General
    • O20 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - General

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