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Using Systematic Review Methods for Topics in Philosophical and Theoretical Psychology.
  • Paul Fehrmann, Kent State University - Kent Campus
  • Edith Siken, Kent State University - Kent Campus
In all academic disciplines it is common to see authors refer to what is found in 'the literature'; and in many areas the traditional literature review (TLR) is used to provide a summary look at what has been 'done before'. TLR methods are widely used to summarize or synthesize literature on a topic, etc. Projects that benefit from TLR include university student papers, theses, and dissertations, as well as professional articles and grant proposals. However, among other concerns, critics have pointed to the potential for biased representation of topics when TLR are used. Some have pointed to concerns with potential unconscious or conscious “cherry picking" of publications to support a reviewers viewpoint, or reviewers using an unrepresentative subset of literature, or to the lack of details about the steps taken or key decisions made as TLR are developed. In response, a large systematic review methods (SR) literature in the health and social sciences offers itself as evidence that the shortcomings of TLR might be significantly reduced. The Cochrane Collaboration and Campbell Collaboration are two organizations with guidance for pursuing and executing SR, and the following depicts a common understanding of SR. “ A systematic review aims to comprehensively locate and synthesize research that bears on a particular question, using organized, transparent, and replicable procedures at each step in the process…a systematic review follows a protocol (a detailed plan) that specifies its central objectives, concepts, and methods in advance. Steps and decisions are carefully documented so that readers can follow and evaluate reviewer’s methods.” (Littell, J. H. etal., 2008, p.1). Systematic reviews and meta-analysis / Julia H. Littell, Jacqueline Corcoran, Vijayan Pillai. Oxford University Press. Furthermore, SR methods themselves are evolving, and adaptations are found in a range of disciplines. Moreover, 'rapid reviews' and 'scoping reviews' have been adopted as methods for those needing to complete initial pictures of what literatures are showing on topics. These are two sample papers on “rapid reviews” as a method: (1) Expediting systematic reviews: methods and implications of rapid reviews:; (2) Evidence summaries: the evolution of a rapid review approach: The proposed presentation will provide the results of a 'rapid review' used to develop a picture of the use of SR methods for topics in theoretical and philosophical psychology (TPP). In combination with results from that review, observations concerning 'non-substantive methods', which are currently widely used in psychology, including TPP, will be used to argue that increased use of SRM might have value for TPP topics. Additional recommendations will also be offered.
Publication Date
Spring 2014
Citation Information
Paul Fehrmann and Edith Siken. "Using Systematic Review Methods for Topics in Philosophical and Theoretical Psychology." (2014)
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