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 (2000), there are six types of questions that can be answered by undertaking a systematic or other high level review.
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.
Watch a short video on framing your question (1:19).
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
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.
Other criteria to consider
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.
Cochrane Handbook part 2, chapter 2
This chapter provides recommendations for authors on how to determine the scope of the review and the question it will address. It also includes the relevant Methodological Expectations of Cochrane Intervention Reviews (MECIR).
Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) website
'Provide an explicit statement of the objective(s) or question(s) the review addresses.' - PRISMA 2020 Explanation and Elaboration, p. 4
Tips for creating a focused systematic review question from the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine.
Provides an overview of thinking in relation to the theory and practice of formulation of answerable research questions.
Addresses issues relating to using existing search strategy tools when searching for qualitative and mixed methods research studies.
Explores how to determine the type of systematic review to undertake based on a research question or priority.