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Table 1 Differences between a systematic map and systematic review

From: A methodology for systematic mapping in environmental sciences

Stage in ‘evidence synthesis’ Systematic map Systematic review
Objective Describes the state of knowledge for a question or topic Aims to answer questions with a quantitative or qualitative answer
Question formulation Question can be open-framed or closed-framed. Topic can be broad or narrow Question is usually closed-framed
Search strategy No limitation on research evidence that can be included (e.g. primary and secondary research) Evidence is limited to primary qualitative or quantitative research. For example comparative, prevalence or occurrence type studies
Article screening Articles not obtainable at full text (where the full document is not available) or studies with limited data may be included Article full text is usually required to extract relevant data
Data extraction Information describing the study and its methods are extracted. Study results may not be extracted Information describing the study and its methods and studies’ qualitative and or quantitative results extracted
Critical appraisal Critical appraisal optional All included studies critically appraised for study internal and external validity
Synthesis Trends in the literature, knowledge gaps and clusters identified but no ‘synthesis of study results’ carried out Qualitative or quantitative synthesis of study results where possible using appropriate methodology (e.g. meta-analysis). Knowledge gaps identified
Report Describes and catalogues available evidence relating to a topic of interest, identifying knowledge gaps and knowledge clusters. Implications for policy, practice and research made Narrative and qualitative or quantitative synthesis study results (e.g. meta-analysis) to answer the question (where feasible). Implications for policy and practice, and identification of knowledge gaps for future research