When we need to know what science says about a specific question or research area, we turn to consulting the existing bibliography, research studies. In this process, quite frequently, we will find different studies that address the subject of our interest, but that differ in their findings and results. At this point, we must synthesise these results and try to clarify what is valid, what is not and what will be the most balanced and objective summary possible of the set of studies analysed.
Bibliographic review is essential for the advancement of science. For this reason, technologies are necessary to allow these reviews to be carried out in a reproducible and reliable way, trying to eliminate as much subjectivity as possible from the process.
Systematic review is a procedural way of approaching a synthesis study. It is a secondary research method helping to determine the state of the art in any matter, as well as possible research gaps for future work.
When the systematic review is approached quantitatively, trying to determine the mean effect or the analysis of the heterogeneity of the results found in the studies we are analysing, the meta-analysis technique will be used.
This form of synthesis has been widely used by the health sciences and, specifically, the Cochrane group has worked intensively to improve meta-analytical techniques and promote the habit of sharing information in the scientific community, in order to win in efficiency and safety. In organisational studies, this technique serves to support evidence-based management.