What is a systematic review and why is it important?

The purpose of a systematic review is to sum up the best available research on a specific question. This is done by bringing together the results of several studies. Studies included in a review are screened for quality, so that the findings of a large number of studies can be combined. Findings from systematic reviews tend to have greater weight than findings from single studies.

Looking for research or summaries with an Ontario connection?

Search the Ontario Education Research Exchange (OERE) for research summaries. The OERE is a KNAER funded project that provides free access to short research summaries for Ontario educators.

Looking for different kinds of evidence or wanting to assess evidence quality?

EEEP Handbook icon

EEEP is a KNAER project that developed resources to support Ontario school boards in using evidence to inform decision making. Although its focus was educational programs for students with special education needs, EEEP developed useful guidelines that all educators can use when searching for different kinds of evidence and assessing evidence quality. Below is a summary of EEEP's recommendations:



    Find the evidence about the effectiveness, equity, & efficiency of the program:

    Define the scope of evaluation – Specify: topic/program, special population, grade level, context (e.g., community type, public/ private, SES), type of anticipated effect Gather the evidence – e.g., published research, developer information, expert & professional opinion, media coverage, anecdote Filter the evidence – Revisit the scope. Keep only evidence relevant to the scope.

  • Phase 2 - SORT & ASSESS

    Sort & Assess the evidence about the effectiveness, equity, & efficiency of the program:

    Research Studies & Reviews 

    quantitative qualitative mixed-methods meta-analysis narrative synthesis

    Professional Judgment

    teachers researchers psychologists other educators 

    Media, Journalism, & Anecdote

    newspaper articles developer websites anecdotal reports internet source


    Summarize & Synthesize the evidence about the effectiveness, equity, & efficiency of the program:

    Is there sufficient and consistent evidence to inform a decision about the program under examination? Have issues of effectiveness, equity, and efficiency been considered? Based on the evidence, is the program appropriate?

  • Use this handy checklist when assessing evidence quality

Collecting student data?

This short summary provides an overview of the KNAER project "Demographic Data and Student Equity" which examined how demographic data may be taken into consideration when planning for student achievement. The authors provide suggestions on how student data can be collected in order to identify opportunity gaps and to monitor progress in addressing these gaps.

icon download  Download the Demographic Data and Student Equity Project Summary