What is a Systematic Review?

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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