The aim of this study was to analyse whether Ph D theses in European biomedical graduate programs can be partly or entirely based on SRs.
In 2016, we surveyed individuals in charge of European Ph D programs from 105 institutions.
We invited only individuals responsible for Ph D programs (e.g., directors, deputy directors, head of graduate school, vice deans for graduate school or similar).
We also asked them to communicate with other individuals in charge of their program to make sure that only one person per Ph D program filled out the survey.
To the best of our knowledge, there are no reports on the acceptance of SRs as the basis for Ph D theses.
A recent review addressed potential advantages and disadvantages of such a thesis type and presented opposing arguments about the issue .
Raising awareness about the importance of SRs and their methodology could contribute to higher acceptance of SRs as a type of research that forms the basis of a Ph D thesis.
Systematic reviews (SRs) are a type of secondary research, which refers to the analysis of data that have already been collected through primary research .
Even though SRs are a secondary type of research, a SR needs to start with a clearly defined research question and must follow rigorous research methodology, including definition of the study design a priori, data collection, appraisal of study quality, numerical analyses in the form of meta-analyses and other analyses when relevant and formulation of results and conclusions.
Aveyard and Sharp defined SRs as ‘original empirical research’ because they ‘review, evaluate and synthesise all the available primary data, which can be either quantitative or qualitative’ .