High Level Reviews (systematic, integrative, scoping)

Integrative Reviews, Scoping Reviews, and Systematic Reviews are high level literature reviews.

Developing your question

Integrative reviews  Scoping reviews  Systematic reviews


Seek the perspectives of colleagues, experts on the topic of interest, and stakeholders such as patients and families who may be impacted by the disease or intervention, as their input can be valuable in shaping the question and the direction of the review.


According to the Australian NHMRC guide, How to review the evidence: systematic identification and review of the scientific literature opens in a new window (2000), there are six types of questions that can be answered by undertaking a systematic or other high level review.

  • Investigating the effect of an intervention
  • Investigating the frequency or rate of a condition or disease
  • Establishing the performance of a diagnostic test and the impact on the patient
  • Understanding aetiology and risk factors
  • Attempting to predict patients at risk and identify patient prognosis
  • Identifying the economic impact of treatments and procedures


If you are conducting a high level review it is advisable to consider making use of a framework when developing your question. There are a large number of frameworks that have been developed. Not all frameworks are suitable for all question types or discipline areas. In this guide we have sorted frames by both disciplines and question type to help you determine which framework will work best for your research.


Video Watch a short video on framing your question (1:19).

Example of using a question framework

Start by writing out your main research question. List any sub-questions that help you to define what you're actually trying to find out.

Overarching review question

Evaluating the impact of library support services provided to university students undertaking a high level review at CQUniversity. Can library support services affect the quality of high level reviews undertaken by research higher degree students.

Sub questions you'll need to search the literature to answer

  1. What percentage of CQUniversity associated high level reviews published in the past 5 years acknowledge the support of a library service?
  2. What level of library support should be recognised by authors when publishing high level reviews?
  3. What frameworks did the author/s use to formulate their research question and was the framework used accurately?
  4. What impact does framework selection have on the overall outcome of a high level review?
  5. What library databases where used to undertake the high level review?
  6. What is the impact of database selection on the search strategy and the review outcomes?
  7. Did published CQUniversity high level reviews provide a complete search strategy that could be replicated by a librarian and/or researcher?


Framing the question

Choose a framework that suits your question type. This is a service evaluation question so for this example we'll use ECLIPSE. The green highlighting is for the words to search on.

  • What is the information you find going to be used to support?
  • The production of quality high level reviews
  • Quality of library support services
Client group
  • Who is the service for?
  • RHD students at CQUniversity
  • Where is the service run from?
  • CQUniversity Library
  • University libraries
  • What is the desired change to service, if any?
  • How are you defining success?
  • How will you measure success?

Desired change

  • RHD students are capable of producing high quality high level reviews with appropriate support from the library
  • Acknowledgement of library support in the production of high level reviews becomes standard practice
  • Replicable searches are always recorded in the published review


  • Librarians are acknowledged where appropriate
  • Student searches are replicable
  • Students are using the correct framework for their questions
  • Students are choosing appropriate databases
  • Who is providing the service?
  • Who will be involved in improving the service?
  • Academic librarians
  • Research librarians
  • CQUniversity senior librarians
  • Which service are you searching for information on?
  • Library support services for high level reviews


Other criteria to consider

  • Reviews are published in the last 5 years


The questions you'll need for your high level review search

Not every part of your framework is going to end up in your search question. You'll notice that there are 2 search questions below, based on the Client group, Location, Professionals and Service. You'll also see that they are similar to sub-questions 1 and 2 above. The other sub-questions, related to your Expectations and Impact, will be answered with the information gathered in your data extraction phase.

  • Which high level reviews conducted by CQUniversity RHD students have been published in the last 5 years?
  • What library support services do librarians in academic libraries offer to RHD students doing high level reviews?

Further Readings