A systematic review of research is a decision-making tool for policy and practice. It is a piece of research in its own right, using explicit and rigorous methods that follow a standard set of stages. These methods identify, critically appraise and synthesise relevant research (both published and unpublished) around a specific research question.
The review process allows for different studies to be weighted for relevance and quality of findings to answer a given question. The ultimate effect of this is that research can influence a review’s conclusion only when based on agreed guidelines, and when the reviewers have confidence in the research.
In undertaking the first systematic review of research in vocational education and training (VET) in Australia on the mature-aged and skill development activities, the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) was required to also establish a model and infrastructure for future reviews. NCVER’s proposed eight-step model is outlined in this report.