We received responses from 86 individuals running PhD programs in 68 institutions (institutional response rate of 65%). Therefore, it is unfair to label a SR as a priori lacking in new knowledge. Therefore, a SR represents a new research contribution to society and is considered the highest level in the hierarchy of evidence in medicine [3]. Conducting a SR should not be mandatory, but candidates and mentors willing to produce such research within a graduate program should be allowed to do so. PubMed  The questionnaire was then modified according to their feedback. The questionnaire included questions about their PhD program; whether PhD candidates are required to publish manuscript(s) before thesis defence; the minimum number of required manuscripts for defending a PhD thesis; the authorship requirements for a PhD candidate with regard to published manuscript(s); whether there is a requirement for a PhD candidate to publish manuscript(s) in journals indexed in certain databases or journals of certain quality, and how the quality is defined; the description about other requirements for defending a PhD thesis; whether a SR partly or fully meets requirements for approval of a PhD thesis in their graduate program; what are the rules related to the use of a SR as the basis for a PhD thesis; and the number of PhD theses based on SRs relative to other types of research methods. Feinstein AR. This systematic review showed that there is no relationship between coffee consumption and breast cancer in Women in the United States. 7. California Privacy Statement, pb = 0.011; P = 0.94). Higgins JPT, Thompson SG. The systematic review with meta-analysis is at the top of the pyramid of evidence in therapeutic interventions. The aim of this study was to analyse whether PhD theses in European biomedical graduate programs can be partly or entirely based on SRs. Information covered in this guide Before you start, make sure you are ready. A PhD candidate can prepare a Cochrane SR as a part of the PhD thesis, yielding a high-impact publication [4]. The aim of this study was to analyse whether PhD theses in European biomedical graduate programs can be partly or entirely based on SRs. Systematic review allows the assessment of primary study quality, identifying the weaknesses in current experimental efforts and guiding the methodology of future research. The PRISMA-P group have identified a list of ‘Preferred reporting items for systematic review and meta-analysis protocols’ (Moher et al. Raising awareness about the importance of SRs in biomedicine, the basic aspects of SR methodology and the status of SRs as original secondary research could contribute to greater acceptance of SRs as potential PhD theses. Some of the questionnaires (n = 15) were only partly completed. Article  Therefore, it is unclear why somebody would consider it a problem that a SR is conducted within a team. Clearly state the criteria you will use to determine whether or … The 20-item questionnaire, designed specifically for this study by both authors (LP and DS), was first tested for face validity and clarity among five individuals in charge of PhD programs. This could refer to either insufficient formal training or insufficient mentoring. Google Scholar. In most cases, the missing data were related to knowledge about SR methodology. The graduate program and the mentor need to ensure that a PhD candidate receives sufficient knowledge to complete the proposed thesis topic. Syst Rev 6, 253 (2017). 2008;105(20):380–3. Take a look at the 10 tips we've compiled. Graduate programs can set limits, such as the prevention of empty reviews and the recognition of updated reviews as valid for a PhD thesis, and engage experienced researchers as advisors and within thesis evaluation committees, to ensure that a candidate will conduct a high-quality SR [4]. Evidence synthesis Designing the Question The design of a research question requires careful selection of language, which mirrors the intent of the research. Are you ready to start your review? P I C O; Population or Problem: Intervention or Exposure: Comparison: Outcome: What are the characteristics of the P opulation or patient?. This research was funded by the Croatian Science Foundation, grant no. a European PhD programs that recognise a systematic review as a PhD thesis (green dot) and those that do not (red dot). PubMed Google Scholar. NOTE: If you are considering purchasing a book, buy the 2nd edition (2017). A limitation of this study was that we relied on participants’ responses and not on assessments of formal rules of PhD programs. PubMed Central  Some of the respondents indicated that empty (reviews that did not find a single study that should be included after literature search) or updated reviews could also be used for a PhD thesis (Fig. (Polit, 2012). Those responders were used as a unit of analysis in the analysis of attitudes and knowledge; institutions were the unit of analysis when analysing criteria for theses. In our study, 80% of the participants reported negative attitudes, and more than half of the respondents agreed with a statement that SRs are ‘not a result of the candidate’s independent work since systematic reviews tend to be conducted by a team’. Systematic reviews assess as much as possible of the available research in the area of concern. Systematic Literature Review, sometimes known as systematic reviews, are associated with evidence-based healthcare practice, the idea that nursing and related healthcare disciplines should be grounded in the most up-to-date and accurate research evidence. 1a, b). The Organization of PhD Education in Biomedicine and Health Sciences in the European System (ORPHEUS) includes 105 institutional members from 40 countries and six associate members from Canada, Georgia, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and the USA [6]. Privacy To the best of our knowledge, there are no reports on the acceptance of SRs as the basis for PhD theses. Dissertation proposal samples in education; How to write a personal statement for masters degree Some individuals believe that a SR is not original research. Systematic Review The purpose of a systematic review is to attempt to find, evaluate and synthesize high quality research relevant to the research question. IP-2014-09-7672 ‘Professionalism in Health Care’. In most of the programs (37%; n = 22), the number of required manuscripts was three or more. Raising awareness about the importance of SRs and their methodology could contribute to higher acceptance of SRs as a type of research that forms the basis of a PhD thesis. The most commonly specified databases were Web of Science (41%; n = 35) and MEDLINE/PubMed (13%; n = 11), followed by Science Citation Index, Scopus, Current Contents, a combination of several databases or, in two cases, a combination of journals from a list defined by some governing body. The protocol will help to keep you on the right track as you go through the literature. SRs can be instrumental in improving methodological quality of new experiments, providing evidence-based recommendations for research models, reducing avoidable waste, and enabling evidence-based translational research [20]. Arztebl. Half red and half green dots indicate the five universities with institutions that have opposite rules regarding recognition of a systematic review as a PhD thesis. Methodology and potential bias might also be listed. J. Fam. Google Scholar. Thus, it has been recommended that SRs should be included ‘whenever appropriate, as a mandatory part of any PhD program or candidature’ [18]. 2015) which are useful guidelines to improve the transparency of the process in systematic reviews. The study is also not generalisable to Europe, as there are no universal criteria or expectations for PhD theses in Europe. Terms and Conditions, surveyed journal editors and asked whether they consider SRs to be original studies. A recent study indicated a number of opposing views and disadvantages related to SRs as research methodology for graduate theses, including lack of knowledge and understanding by potential supervisors, which may prevent them from being mentors and assisting students to complete such a study [5]. 2016;21:120–8. The majority of participants (80%; n = 69) indicated that SRs did not meet criteria for a publication on which a PhD dissertation should be based (Fig. Full online survey that was sent to the study participants. Balajic K, Barac-Latas V, Drenjancevic I, Ostojic M, Fabijanic D, Puljak L. Influence of a vertical subject on research in biomedicine and activities of the Cochrane collaboration branch on medical students’ knowledge and attitudes toward evidence-based medicine. Mahtani KR. Systematic reviews, scoping reviews, rapid reviews, meta-analyses, realist reviews, living systematic reviews, narrative syntheses, practice guidelines, among others, are all forms of knowledge syntheses. In 1995, Feinstein suggested that such studies are ‘statistical alchemy for the 21st century’ and that a meta-analysis removes or destructs ‘scientific requirements that have been so carefully developed and established during the 19th and 20th centuries’ [7]. The discussion section should also be clearly ordered. There are many advantages of a SR as a graduate thesis [4, 5], especially as a research methodology suitable for low-resource settings. SRs have been proposed as a type of research methodology that should be acceptable as the basis for a graduate research thesis [4, 5]. J Gen Intern Med. There are 105 institutions included in the ORPHEUS network. (ID: 2), http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK56167/, http://www.gla.ac.uk/media/media_64047_en.pdf, http://www.dfid.gov.uk/r4d/pdf/articles/what_is_a_systematic_review_external.pdf, Emergence Of Artificial Intelligence In Writing Industry. The General Secretary of the ORPHEUS contacted individuals responsible for PhD programs (directors or deputy directors) among the institutional members, via e-mail, on 5th of July 2016. One reminder was sent to the targeted participants 1 month after the first mail. Error, group does not exist! However, limiting SRs within a thesis only to those with meta-analysis would be unfair because sometimes meta-analysis is not justified due to clinical or statistical heterogeneity [11] and the presence or absence of a meta-analysis is not an indicator of the quality of a SR. Finally, participants were invited to leave their email address if they wanted to receive survey results. Sambunjak D, Straus SE, Marusic A. Quantifying heterogeneity in a meta-analysis. Chalmers I, Glasziou P. Avoidable waste in the production and reporting of research evidence. Systematic reviews (SRs) are a type of secondary research, which refers to the analysis of data that have already been collected through primary research [1]. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated. Cite this article. An aim of a systematic review is to illustrate that a thorough summary of current literature which is relevant to the student’s research has been carried out by the student. We had five such cases, so it is possible that institutions within the same university have different rules related to accepted research methodology in graduate PhD programs. CAS  2010;25(1):72–8. Google Scholar. Data analysis is the next stage. This could be a cause for concern because it has been argued that any health research should begin with a SR of the literature [17]. The acronym PICO has been devised to summarise the four parts a question should take into account (the population or patient group studied, the intervention, treatment or test, a comparison or alternative intervention, and the outcome of the intervention (see figure 1 for an example). Further studies in this field could provide better insight into attitudes related to SRs as graduate theses and explore interventions that can be used to change negative attitudes and improve knowledge of SRs among decision-makers in graduate education. 1997;126(5):376–80. Article  Based on the information provided by the graduate program directors, in the majority of the included PhD programs, students were required to publish a research manuscript prepared within their PhD thesis prior to their thesis defence (83%; n = 64). A point-biserial correlation (SPSS, IBM, Chicago, IL, USA) was used to measure the strength of the association between results on the knowledge test (continuous variable) and the attitude towards SRs as the basis for dissertations (dichotomous variable; we used the answer to the following question as this measure: ‘Do you agree that a systematic review, in whole or in part, meets the criteria for a publication on which a doctoral dissertation can be based?’). Recommendations for future studies are often made. IP-2014-09-7672 ‘Professionalism in Health Care’. Of the nine questions about SR research methodology, only three questions were correctly answered by more than half of the participants. Wright, R W, Brand, R A, Dunn, W and Spindler, K P (2007) ‘How to Write a Systematic Review’, Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research’, 455:23-29. Marusic A, Sambunjak D, Jeroncic A, Malicki M, Marusic M. No health research without education for research—experience from an integrated course in undergraduate medical curriculum. 2010;20(3):319–2. On the contrary, the mean number of authors of research manuscripts is continuously increasing [10]. It starts with a summary statement setting out the main finding. The methods of the review are drawn from the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions (version 5.1.0), which is the official J R Soc Med. Inclusion and exclusion criteria should also be determined at this stage. It should end with a summary statement of the aims, The methodology should follow a clear structure, looking at inclusion/exclusion characteristics, how studies were indentified, how studies included were handled, data extraction and quality assessment, The results section covers how the data was handled (including any statistical analysis). This finding could be a result of a lack of capacity and knowledge for conducting SRs in the particular institutions where the survey was conducted, and not general opinion related to learning a research method when conducting a PhD study. In 2016, we surveyed individuals in charge of European PhD programs from 105 institutions. The third paragraph should cover the negative and positive aspects of the methodology, while the fourth paragraph contexualises the results in terms of existing knowledge. Reference lists of articles are useful for finding new areas to investigate, as can handsearching of journals. A requirement that a PhD candidate should be the first author on a manuscript(s) that constitutes a PhD thesis was reported in 82% (n = 64) of the graduate programs. Online survey used in the study. Systematic reviews (SRs) have been proposed as a type of research methodology that should be acceptable for a graduate research thesis. PubMed  The mailing list had 1049 contacts. This links to an example of such a form: Quality appraisal is perhaps the most central step, and there are a number of checklists which have been developed to help with this process. Instead, there are relevant checklists for appraising methodological and reporting quality of a SR [12, 13]. The review systematically searches, identifies, selects, appraises, and synthesizes research evidence relevant to the question using methodology that is explicit, reproducible, and leads to minimum bias. statement and 2002;21:1539–58. •Single sided • 12 point Times New Roman or 11 point Arial •Double-spaced (the reference list can be 1.15 or 1.5 line spacing) •Page margins must be ‘normal’ or at least 2.54cm on each sides •Page numbers must be … Among the programs that accepted SRs, theses could be exclusively based on a SR in 42% (n = 17) of programs, while in the remaining programs, SRs were acceptable as one publication among others in a dissertation. © 2020 BioMed Central Ltd unless otherwise stated. Including student tips and advice. The volume of a SR largely depends on the number of included studies and the available data for numerical analyses. The ORPHEUS encompasses a network of higher education institutions committed to developing and disseminating best practice within PhD training programs in biomedicine, health sciences and public health. Google Scholar. Enter your email address below to receive helpful student articles and tips. Systematic Reviews strongly encourages that all datasets on which the conclusions of the paper rely should be available to readers. The results are then interpreted. The pie chart presents b the percentage of the programs in which systematic reviews, in whole or in part, meet the criteria for a dissertation and c the opinion of participants about whether systematic reviews should form the basis of a publication within a PhD dissertation. Dtsch. Google Scholar. Such tables typically include the population studied, interventions and outcomes. This is valid not only for clinical trials, but also for other types of animal and human experiments [20]. A systematic review uses carefully developed data collection and sampling procedures that are put in place in advance as a protocol. Analytic framework 3. DFID Research and Evidence Division (2013) ‘Systematic Reviews and Evidence‐Informed Policy: Overview’, This http://www.dfid.gov.uk/r4d/pdf/articles/what_is_a_systematic_review_external.pdf, Hemingway, P and Brereton, N (2013) ‘What is a Systematic Review’, [online] (cited 13th February 2013) available from, http://www.medicine.ox.ac.uk/bandolier/painres/download/whatis/syst-review.pdf, Wardlaw, J M (2010) ‘Advice on how to write a systematic review’, [online] (cited 13th February 2013) available from, http://www.sbirc.ed.ac.uk/documents/advice%20on%20how%20to%20write%20a%20systematic%20review.pdf. Mixed studies review/mixed methods review. A simple form of data analysis is to descriptively evaluate the studies, summarising these in table format. Research Proposal (systematic review) Research Proposal (systematic review) Presentation Here is some information about how to present the assessment item. Strengths and weaknesses of the studies included in the review are considered. Frequency of different rules that define the use of systematic reviews as a part of a PhD thesis in European biomedical graduate programs. If there were several PhD programs within one institution, we asked for participation of one senior person per program. Our results can be used to create strategies that will enhance acceptance of SRs among graduate education program directors. 2007;7:10. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/, https://doi.org/10.1186/s13643-017-0653-x. A systematic review is a type of literature review that collects and critically analyses multiple research studies. Dissertation examples Listed below are some of the best examples of research projects and dissertations from undergraduate and taught postgraduate students at the University of Leeds We have not been able to gather examples from all schools. A systematic review can be divided into clear, logically distinct stages: The first step is to formulate a research question. This study may not be generalisable to different PhD programs worldwide that were not surveyed. There is little research about this methodological issue. Available at: http://www.orpheus-med.org/. The protocol will document the rationale, hypothesis and planned method of the review. By using this website, you agree to our Also, it is good practice to register the protocol at PROSPERO, the international prospective register of systematic reviews. A protocol should be created at the start of the systematic review project. Research questions are often devised with the use of the PICO structure: Population, Intervention (or Exposure), Control/Comparator, Outcomes. The datasets used and/or analysed for the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request. Indeed, it has been suggested that SRs as ‘secondary research’ are different than ‘primary or original research’, implying that they are inferior and lacking in novelty and methodological rigour as compared to studies that are considered primary research. In four programs, there was no formal policy on this matter, but there was a strong expectation that the student will have contributed substantially to several manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals. Livia Puljak. Among 13 programs (17%) that did not have this requirement, five respondents (38%) indicated that in their opinion their school’s rules related to a PhD thesis should be changed such as to specify that each thesis should be based on work that is already published in a journal. Define inclusion and exclusion criteria. It fulfills all requirements of the degree in PhD dissertation. Instead, it was agreed that ORPHEUS officials would send the survey via email to the mailing list. Evidence mapping 4. The third most commonly chosen argument against SRs within PhD theses was ‘lack of adequate training of candidates in methodology of systematic reviews’. CAS  Statist Med. The majority of participants were not familiar with basic concepts related to SRs; questions about meta-analyses and the type of plots frequently used in SRs were correctly answered by only one third of the participants. Are no universal criteria or expectations for PhD theses review project use in the design a... 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