The overview of reviews: unique challenges and opportunities when research syntheses are the principal elements of new integrative scholarship.
In the past two decades, a new form of scholarship has appeared in which researchers present an overview of previously conducted research syntheses on the same topic. In these efforts, research syntheses are the principal units of evidence. Overviews of reviews introduce unique problems that require unique solutions. This article describes what methods overviewers have developed or have adopted from other forms of scholarship. These methods concern how to (a) define the broader problem space of an overview, (b) conduct literature searches that specifically look for research syntheses, (c) address the overlap in evidence in related reviews, (d) evaluate the quality of both primary research and research syntheses, (e) integrate the outcomes of research syntheses, especially when they produce discordant results, (f) conduct a second-order meta-analysis, and (g) present findings. The limitations of overviews are also discussed, especially with regard to the age of the included evidence.
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