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Seung-Kwon Myung 1 Article
How to review and assess a systematic review and meta-analysis article
Seung-Kwon Myung
Sci Ed. 2023;10(2):119-126.   Published online April 28, 2023
DOI: https://doi.org/10.6087/kcse.306
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Systematic reviews and meta-analyses have become central in many research fields, particularly medicine. They offer the highest level of evidence in evidence-based medicine and support the development and revision of clinical practice guidelines, which offer recommendations for clinicians caring for patients with specific diseases and conditions. This review summarizes the concepts of systematic reviews and meta-analyses and provides guidance on reviewing and assessing such papers. A systematic review refers to a review of a research question that uses explicit and systematic methods to identify, select, and critically appraise relevant research. In contrast, a meta-analysis is a quantitative statistical analysis that combines individual results on the same research question to estimate the common or mean effect. Conducting a meta-analysis involves defining a research topic, selecting a study design, searching literature in electronic databases, selecting relevant studies, and conducting the analysis. One can assess the findings of a meta-analysis by interpreting a forest plot and a funnel plot and by examining heterogeneity. When reviewing systematic reviews and meta-analyses, several essential points must be considered, including the originality and significance of the work, the comprehensiveness of the database search, the selection of studies based on inclusion and exclusion criteria, subgroup analyses by various factors, and the interpretation of the results based on the levels of evidence. This review will provide readers with helpful guidance to help them read, understand, and evaluate these articles.

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