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CMAJ. 1988 April 15; 138(8): 697–703.
PMCID: PMC1267776

Guidelines for reading literature reviews.


One strategy for dealing with the burgeoning medical literature is to rely on reviews of the literature. Although this strategy is efficient, readers may be misled if the review does not meet scientific standards. Therefore, guidelines that will help readers assess the scientific quality of the review are proposed. The guidelines focus on the definition of the question, the comprehensiveness of the search strategy, the methods of choosing and assessing the primary studies, and the methods of combining the results and reaching appropriate conclusions. Application of the guidelines will allow clinicians to spend their valuable reading time on high-quality material and to judge the validity of an author's conclusions.

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