What is the minimum number of included studies in a systematic review?

Visualisation of a Meta-Analysis in a Forest Plot (Review Manager)
  • How many studies do I need for my systematic review? Zero.
  • How many studies are enough for a meta-analysis? 2 or more (depends, read on).
  • Can I publish a systematic review with no studies? Yes.

Purpose 1: Coursework, assignment, master's or PhD thesis dissertation

  • To manage a team and a project
  • To develop a review protocol (proposal)
  • To design and run searches with assistance from a librarian
  • To select the relevant studies among the search results
  • To learn the methods to find the full text of the records
  • To critically appraise the quality of the studies using relevant tools
  • To pull the data and information out of studies and pool them into a table or figure for data analysis/synthesis
  • To write a report

Purpose 2: Grant Application or Research Proposal or PhD Application

Purpose 3: A Publication into Your Empty CV

Purpose 4: Declaring your love for Meta-Analysis and Forest Plot decorated with a Diamond

Forest Plot after Sensitivity Analysis for Sensitivities in a Diagnostic Test Accuracy Review (Stata)

Question: How many studies do you need for a meta-analysis? How many effect sizes are needed for a meta-analysis?

Answer A: 2 (technically and acceptably)

A Meta-Analysis Visualised in a Forest Plot with 2 Studies (Review Manager)
A Meta-Analysis Visualised in a Forest Plot with 1 Study (Review Manager)

Answer B: 5 or more (statistical power-wise).

A Meta-Analysis Visualised in a Forest Plot with 8 Studies (Review Manager)

Answer C: Generally, the more, the better

Purpose 5: Declaring your love for funny Funnel Plot

A Funnel Plot (Stata)

Conclusion

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A Proper Information Scientist/Professional with a Pinch of Career and Life Lessons

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