National Center for the
Dissemination of Disability Research


Conducting Systematic Reviews of Randomized and Non-Randomized Studies to Inform Evidence-Based Practice and Policy

Holiday Inn Capitol, Washington DC
April 25, 2007

Chad Nye, PhD
Professor of Communication Sciences & Disorders
Executive Director, Center for Autism & Related Disabilities (CARD)
University of Central Florida

Herb Turner, PhD
President and Principal Researcher

Researchers need to use the best available evidence to make recommendations for practitioners and consumers. This workshop explains how research designs other than randomized controlled trials (RCTs) yield evidence that could be included in systematic reviews. A systematic review "strives to comprehensively identify, appraise, and synthesize all the relevant studies on a given topic" (Petticrew & Roberts, 2006, p. 19). Systematic reviews examine the results of multiple studies that fit defined criteria, in order to limit bias and to identify evidence that emerges from the review. Most systematic reviews use criteria that outline a hierarchy of evidence, with the 'gold standard' identified through RCTs. However, much disability and rehabilitation research consists of evidence generated by quasi-experimental designs including single subject designs.


8:00-8:30 am

Intro & Overview 

  1. Speakers
  2. Production Background
  3. Purpose/Goals
  4. Context and Motivation for Review
    1. types of evidence
    2. research, policy, practice

8:30-9:00 am

Topic Selection and Getting Started 

  1. Sources
  2. Topic accessibility
  3. Registration form for a Review

9:00-9:45 am

Systematic Review Process

  1. 8 Steps in a Systematic Review
  2. Information Retrieval 
    1. Electronic
    2. Hand Search
    3. Grey Literature
    4. Invisible College

9:45-10:00 am


10:00-10:45 am

Coding Procedures 

  1. Codebook development
  2. Practice Coding    
    1. Study, Participants, and Interventions
    2. Designs & Outcomes

10:45-11:00 am


11:00 am-12:00 pm

Calculating and Synthesizing Effect Sizes    

  1. ES Calculations and Interpretation
  2. Group Designs
  3. Single Subject Designs 

12:00-12:30 pm

Next Steps: Where do we go from here?

  1. Process Review: What to do next
  2. Topic Selection-Types of Evidence-Review Options
  3. Q & A

Selected Materials

Reading List     

What is an 'Effect Size'? (Coe, 2000)     

Effects of parent involvement in isolation or in combination with peer tutoring on student self-concept and mathematics achievement, (Fantuzzo, et al., 1995)

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NCDDR is funded by the
National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR)
Project Number: H133A060028
U.S. Department of Education