Systematic review

The method systematic reviews focusses on finding, evaluating and summarising already published findings of relevant individual studies on a certain research topic of interest. It leads to a critical complete overview of the already available scientific evidence on that topic. As an example, is there sufficient preclinical evidence to demonstrate that a drug is effective and safe, so there is a good basis for starting human clinical studies?

Systematic reviews are also crucial in the transition to animal-free research, as they make transparant what the evidence is from animal studies and alternatives. It makes it possible to provide the research evidence for which alternatives are good predictors for human and veterinary diseases and therapies. After an antidiabetic drug had to be taken from the market because of severe side effects in the liver, a retrospective systematic review showed that these side effects could have been predicted on the basis of in vitro alternative tests , but not on the basis of animal studies.

Also in education, systematic reviews are an excellent methodology, as they have a huge impact on the awareness and motivation of persons executing them.

“Once somebody has done a systematic review, he/she will do all future research better” (David Gough).

For more information on systematic review, please contact Merel Ritskes: