Rapid Evidence Synthesis

Toolkit for finding and summarizing evidence on short timelines

Who is this toolkit for?

Users of this toolkit will be familiar with searching, scanning, and evaluating the scientific literature. The toolkit was developed and tested by implementation scientists but can be used by any researcher who needs to produce a report of the literature in 1-4 months.

Getting Started

What is rapid evidence synthesis and what does it produce?

Rapid evidence synthesis is a series of methods that adapts systematic review methods for shorter timelines than for a full systematic review.

The evidence reviews produced using rapid evidence synthesis methods can be used to inform planned or in-progress research projects, including funding proposals. It can be combined with the other resources in this set of toolkits to develop and optimize implementation strategies. Some rapid evidence synthesis products are suitable for peer-reviewed publication.

Why prioritize rapid evidence synthesis?

Researchers and implementation scientists often need information on a short timeline to answer specific project-related questions or develop the rationale for funding a project. Rapid, agile, but rigorous evidence synthesis methods provide project partners with the information they need, when they need it.

When do I use this toolkit?

If a project team needs a focused literature summary to make internal decisions or plan a project, a rapid review can produce a high-quality evidence synthesis product tailored for these specific needs. For work that will inform clinical guidelines or practice or quality improvement initiatives, we advise researchers conduct a full systematic review (Greenhalgh et al., 2005; Cooper et al., 2018).

What is included in this toolkit?

This toolkit contains step-by-step instructions, with real-world examples, for producing a rapid evidence synthesis product. The appendix has tested templates for planning and carrying out a rapid evidence synthesis.

How should I use this toolkit?

Read the introduction to the toolkit if you want background and historical information on evidence synthesis and additional guidance for when, why, and how to use the toolkit. If you are ready to conduct a rapid evidence synthesis, see the step-by-step instructions starting with Scoping.

Thank you for downloading the toolkit. We would like to understand more about who is using these methods and how they are being used.

We are interested in your feedback on the toolkit. If you are willing to be contacted for feedback in the future (e.g., a brief survey), please provide your email below.

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Funding acknowledgment

Funding for this toolkit comes from the National Institute of Mental Health (P50MH12621) and  the National Cancer Institute (P50CA244432).