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2 week systematic reviews (2weekSR)

What is a 2weekSR?

A 2 week systematic review (2weekSR) is a full systematic review (SR) done to a high methodological standard following all the normal systematic review processes, completed in a vastly shortened time frame. The award-winning 2weekSRs combine the following elements: a team with complementary SR skills, previous SR experience, systematic review automation (SRA) tools, and agile development processes. These factors allow for the completion of an accelerated SR in extremely shortened time frames ‚Äď generally in 2 weeks.

How the 2weekSR came about

Advancing systematic reviews to the point where they can be completed in two weeks has long been a dream of Paul Glasziou, Director of the Institute for Evidence-Based Healthcare (IEBH). When he mentioned that goal again in late 2018, several members of the IEBH team felt that IEBH’s automation and methodological development programmes were sufficiently advanced to attempt to complete a full systematic review in 2 weeks (2weekSR).

Therefore, a team of four experienced systematic reviewers with complementary skills attempted to complete a 2weekSR in January 2019: an epidemiologist (Anna Mae Scott), an information specialist (Justin Clark) and two clinician-researchers (Chris Del Mar and Paul Glasziou).

A topic was chosen, the team was set loose, and the clock started ticking at 9:30am on 21 January 2019.

The final product was a full systematic review using standard methodology, completed at 12:10pm on Friday, 1 February - 9 working days (11 calendar days) later. After taking a well-earned long weekend off, the team submitted the systematic review for publication on 5 February - 14 calendar days after starting the systematic review.

The results of this methodological race against the clock were written up and published in the British Journal of General Practice (the systematic review itself), and the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology (the processes and methods paper).

The 2weekSR case study

Clark, J., Glasziou, P., Del Mar, C., Bannach-Brown, A., Stehlik, P., & Scott, A. M. (2020). A full systematic review was completed in 2 weeks using automation tools: a case study.J Clin Epidemiol, 121, 81-90.

Abstract Our aim was to describe the process, facilitators, and barriers to completing the first 2-week full SR. We systematically reviewed evidence of the impact of increased fluid intake, on urinary tract infection (UTI) recurrence, in individuals at risk for UTIs. The review was conducted by experienced systematic reviewers with complementary skills (two researcher clinicians, an information specialist, and an epidemiologist), using Systematic Review Automation tools, and blocked off time for the duration of the project. The SR was completed in 61 person-hours (9 workdays; 12 calendar days); accepted version of the manuscript required 71 person-hours. In conclusion, a small and experienced team, using Systematic Review Automation tools, who have protected time to focus solely on the SR can complete a moderately sized SR in 2 weeks.

2weekSR automation tools

2 week systematic reviews are greatly accelerated by the use of systematic review automation tools. All our tools are freely available on the SRA website.

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Timely evidence syntheses

Introducing MethodsWizard - a semi-automated 2weekSR tool to assist with systematic review protocol writing

2weekSR methodology

Validating the 2weekSR methodology on 10 systematic reviews: Our recent presentation at the Evidence-Based Research (EVBRES) 2021 conference, on extending and validating the 2weekSR methodology on more complex reviews.