PHPS40980 Introduction to Knowledge Synthesis, Systematic Reviews & Meta-analysis

Academic Year 2021/2022

This module provides an introduction to the different methodologies used in Knowledge Synthesis (narrative reviews, systematic reviews, meta-analysis, scoping reviews, literature maps & frameworks, rapid reviews). Students will learn to read a knowledge synthesis document as well as to plan a KS project.

The module is intended to guide students with their literature reviews or SR. The aim is for students to understand how systematic reviews can assist in decision-making for research or decision-making in their future workplace.

This is an introductory course suitable for students with no previous experience in conducting systematic reviews.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module students will be able to:
- Understand the role that systematic reviews has in decision-making and in research
- Describe the different types of literature review, their methodology, strengths, limitations, and sources of bias
- Critically appraise a knowledge synthesis paper
- Identify the steps needed to conduct a Systematic Review and understand the statistical basis of MA
. Identify the available software and applications to conduct SRs and MA
• Apply the learned skills to improve the literature review of research proposals, Master thesis and PhD thesis.

Indicative Module Content:

Evidence-based decision making.
Systematic reviews' basic structure
How to critically appraise a systematic review
Defining the scope of an SR (question)
Search strategy
The statistical basis of Meta-analysis
Basis of software used to conduct systematic reviews (revman and covidence)
Critically appraising a systematic review
Basis of GRADE framework

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Autonomous Student Learning


Online Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
This module would be on-line
The students would be able to complete week by week the activities with a mix of synchonic virtual learning classrooms and self-directed activities.

Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Recommendations:

The module is structured to understand the basics of knowledge synthesis approaches using students knowledge synthesis questions. or decision-making questions.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Assignment: The students will identify a research question or a decision-making scenario and will conduct the first steps of a systematic review Week 12 n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% Yes


Multiple Choice Questionnaire (Short): Multiple Choice Questionnaire Throughout the Trimester n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% Yes


Assignment: Critical appraisal of an existing systematic review.
The students will select a systematic review of their choice and they will critically appraise it.
Week 6 n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% Yes


Carry forward of passed components
Remediation Type Remediation Timing
In-Module Resit Prior to relevant Programme Exam Board
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Group/class feedback, post-assessment
• Online automated feedback
• Peer review activities
• Self-assessment activities

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Midterm Assignment: Peer review feedback End of trimester presentation: Feedback after the presentation

Systematic Reviews to Answer Health Care Questions
Heidi D. Nelson
Available @UCD (on-line reading)
The book provides the basics to conduct systematic reviews in any field.
Name Role
Assoc Professor Deirdre Hurley Osing Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Amara Naseer Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Professor Akke Vellinga Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Darin Elabbasy Tutor
Ms Carolyn Ingram Tutor