Selection of a topic/question for a review
The principal emphasis in the selection of a topic/question for review is a ‘bottom-up’ approach, with proposals coming from prospective reviewers. The review group works with the BEME Central administration to define the precise scope and nature of the topic/question being considered for review. It is essential to describe the topic/question as accurately as possible to ensure that the best evidence is retrieved and considered for the review. Points to consider are:
Does topic focus and inform. A BEME review topic/question should focus on and inform on practical issues or problems faced by the teacher or institution in their day-to-day practice. For example, the research topic/question should be phrased in such a way as to provide information on how the teacher or institution should respond to the adoption of a new teaching approach in their own context.
Do questions illuminate the topic area. BEME review questions may be most helpful where they illuminate the topic area. A valuable question will usually explore aspects of the review topic and will not necessarily be answered with a simple yes or no.
Is topic precisely defined. The review topic/question should be precisely defined and the terms used in the question should be defined as a question: “What is a high-fidelity simulator?” Typically, a review topic/question will identify:
- population/participants e.g. undergraduate or postgraduate students
- the activity under investigation e.g. the timing of feedback in assessment
- outcomes e.g. change of attitudes or knowledge
Conduct a scoping search. We recommend review groups conduct a scoping search as part of their work for the review protocol. These broad, simplified searches are conducted to determine the size of the body of literature relevant to the topic as initially defined. The scoping search is not comprehensive, nor does it consult all sources.
Refine or broaden. Following the scoping search, it may be advisable either to broaden or narrow the scope of the proposed review topic/question in order to ensure it is manageable whilst at the same time generating sufficient studies for the review. Several iterations may be necessary before the final topic/question is defined.