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How did I manage to score first-class in systematic review and meta-analysis

Hi everyone! Am pleased to have you in this new blog post.

As y’all know, students in their sophomore will be given the toughest, the most crucial, and incredible task ever ~ the final year project.

As the title enshrines, I want to share this whole fortune I had keepsake for crafting a good dissertation of a systematic review and meta-analysis.



Meet-and-greet the Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

This study is such a real deal and I decided to dare dream of making my best craft with this since I had it officially as my research project. I promise myself I will never let myself down not ever before I break a sweat, before my silly errors. “I will do everything I can” was not the phrase in my memory span for the time being.

It was “I will do everything I dreamt off and I will make it”.

Data extraction

It begins with raw data extraction which I had carefully extracted (not even trying to paraphrase yet) into the MS Excel 2019. These data(s) were then organized into table for each study. The aim was to gain the most infos pertaining to the studies as included in the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-analysis guidelines) systematically. I was already on my feet when these tables forming..but still the studies need double extraction, meaning that my supervisor will do the same from the beginning of data extraction. The details were mostly the methodologies applied in studies which you need to see and analyze how they works, is it precise, and worth/suitable for the study. This part called as methodological appraisal.


The data extraction continues with continuous and dichotomous data from each study and organized into another separate table. Some prefer it to be included in the same table (with methodological appraisal). You can do either way you find it easy and effective to work with. This step is essential for you to see the overview of the studies collected in generating best summary of findings (SoF) or table of characteristics of included studies (which will be included as a result for the syst. revi). This process again takes double extraction done independently by supervisors and me to avoid bias. I had always made sure to refer to PRISMA and Cochrane Handbook Review (second best source) as guides in constructing the table so that I can provide the report in the best systematical way.


Risk of bias and Quality evidences judgement

Risk of bias and quality evidence judgement were by far the most real and important decisions I have ever made. It requires your highly understanding, top super attention plus a huge momentum motivation to keep you throughout the process. It was never a one-way process. These studies appraisal testify your study's credibility as a whole with how you extract and analyze it. You have to first acquire a good understanding of the risk of bias concept, what is the risk of bias and etc. in order to effectively guide you in making the best judgement. The same goes for quality evidences judgement. You need to fully grasp the whole idea and concept of those study validities from imprecision, inconsistency, indirectness, and others. It took me a pretty while to digest and to get the ideas cemented in the memory folder. Anyway, fr. Good understanding really helps you and build your confidence in presenting your best efforts.

Meta-Analysis

While meta-analysis is another research methodology for a report of quantitative range of outcomes across studies collected. It reports the outcome with Standard Mean Difference (SMD) or risk ratio (RR) as your principal summary measure. Basically, the meta-analysis is a methodology for you to determine the quantitative value of the outcome while systematic review equals for qualitative definition. It has been such a journey for me to understand the whole deal of this part. You have to understand the whole point, the keywords and the making of result together with the forest plot. And yes it took me plenty of time to come with it but believe me, it will be worth the sweats. You have carefully planted all those data(s) that you cherished all along into the software and the forest plot is forming. That blooming small flowers in your heart might gonna dancing all over when you see the result!

Always look up for expertise aka supervisors

Last but not least, your supervisors. Running away from them was never an option. Their views, their critics are the best which makes you going forward while in the breeze of mock tests and assignments. They keep you on toes with the study goals and making sure you are on the right track from the beginning till the end. Moreover, the process of double extraction and independent analyses which are so vital for the syst.rev. and meta-analysis really requires such a good partnership and communication between the student and supervisors. For a comprehensive and reliable overview, everyone gets to do their part when they communicate and work well together.

I was in deep admiration with how she works things out and how she sees things and branching out important info out of the wordy contexts. And yup it results in more details that I missed out whenever I discuss with her. It’s like a breath of fresh air as I started seeing the ideas with a different spectrum. Therefore, it’s very crucial to always look up for expertise; your supervisor!

Bottom line,

There is no easy way to learn.

Still, it's not that always though as it seems tho.

You just have to get in the groove with it.

With the process and progress

Climbing up with new things

New info

A bit of flailing here and there with some errors

And go back

Crafting your results

With your sweat and tears

Which will then

Find yourself gleaming

With joy

It's beautiful indeed

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