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Improving lives by solving problems in agriculture and the environment

Systematic Reviews

Systematic Reviews

A systematic review is a tool to support decision-making by providing an independent, unbiased and objective assessment of the evidence.

Systematic Review is a tool used to summarize, evaluate and communicate the results and implications of a large quantity of research and information.

It is particularly valuable as it can be used to synthesize the results of many different studies examining the same question; studies that may have conflicting findings. 

Statistical techniques may be used to summarize the results from individual studies to produce a single summary estimate for the effect of an intervention.

The purpose of a Systematic Review is to provide the best available evidence on the likely outcomes of particular actions and, if the evidence is unavailable, to highlight areas where further original research is required.

The diagram above shows a typical flow diagram for how evidence is obtained in a review and how it is examined and shifted to include only the evidence that is of (a) the correct quality and (b) the correct focus to answer the Systematic Review question.

Due to its systematic nature, the approach is far more robust and powerful than a traditional literature review, which can be subjective or prone to being biased towards publications known to the author. A Systematic Review strives to exhaustively search all the relevant peer-reviewed literature as well as grey literature and unpublished research findings. The process by which studies are included or excluded is entirely transparent, and is therefore repeatable for future updating.

CABI has a team of dedicated content development editors and researchers, experienced in the field of developing study protocols; creating and undertaking complex search strategies; evidence gathering; data extraction and analysis; report writing; and probably the most neglected area, information dissemination and discoverability.

CABI’s subject area expertise

  • Agriculture (Policy Impact, Economics, Crop Regimes and Bio Technology)
  • Pest Management (Biological Control, IPM, Chemical Effectiveness)
  • Environmental Management (Habitat Management, Invasive Species Control, Policy)
  • Global Health (Public Health, Disease Control, Health Education)
  • Veterinary Science and Animal Welfare (Drugs, Best Practice, Treatment Impact)
  • International Development (Impact Assessment, Policy Effectiveness)

Systematic Reviews bring together disparate datasets and analyse them to produce a bigger picture based on the sum of best available evidence.

CABI collaborates with organizations, libraries and consultants to ensure that all our reviews draw upon subject specialist researchers, working under the high quality reporting standards required by the Campbell or Cochrane Collaboration. All Systematic Reviews are fully peer-reviewed by both subject experts and methodology / statistical experts.

We apply Systematic Review methodologies, a technique developed in a clinical medicine context, to review research questions and deliver better understanding of the research question and whether new research needs are identified.

CABI has a review team who are experienced in providing independent systematic reviews in international development and agriculture. Using their expertize and in-depth knowledge they systematically collect and review the existing evidence base to assess the question/ problem.

Here are some examples of our work:

Agri-liberalisation Sytematic review

Systematic Review - trade and food security

By reviewing the evidence CABI's expert team can potentially identify how certain policies impact food security and individual sub-groups.

Systematic review - the impact of invasive species on endangered species.PNG

Systematic Review - the impact of invasive species on endangered species

Invasive species are one of the leading causes of species extinction. However, the evidence to support or contest this has been largely unavailable and there have been few efforts to collate such information. This project aims to allow transparency and peer-review of data collection methods to assess whether or not invasive species have an impact on the decline or loss of endangered, threatened or candidate species listed by the US Fish and Wildlife services

CampbellCollaboration systematic review.PNG

Systematic Review on Agricultural input subsidies


There is an urgent need to improve food security. Increasing agricultural producitivty is part of the answer and agricultural inputs (such as fertilizer) can help. However farmers need access to them and for some, they are unnafforable. Agricultural input subsidies exist but their is contention over their effectiveness and efficiency.