A systematic review is a literature review that involves systematically locating, appraising, and synthesising evidence from scientific studies to answer a defined research question based on pre-specified criteria.
What is a meta-analysis?
A method of combining quantitative results from individual studies identified through systematic review in an overall statistical analysis.
Why perform a systematic review of preclinical research?
- Provide an overview of available evidence
- Identify knowledge gaps
- Critically appraise study quality
- Identify factors influencing treatment efficacy
- Inform experimental design of new studies
- Reduce waste in future research
The results of preclinical systematic reviews can:
- Provide evidence to change research practice by identifying risks of bias in preclinical experiments
- Influence development of reporting guidelines and editorial policies
- Provide evidence to support reporting of positive, negative and neutral results through detection of publication bias
- Identify study design features that compromise potential clinical application
- Contribute to evidence-based clinical trial design
The 3Rs: replacement, reduction and refinement
The principles of the 3Rs are a framework for humane animal research. Systematic review is a valuable tool for advancing the 3Rs, primarily through reduction and refinement of animal use in research. Using existing animal data, systematic review can contribute to improvements in animal studies including:
- Providing reliable data to support sample size calculations for various experimental outcomes
- Allowing comparison of the statistical performance of different experimental outcome measures
- Characterising the extent to which subjecting animals to multiple tests contributes to additional knowledge
- Assessing whether the same information can be provided by less invasive tests
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