Knowledge synthesis is the aggregation of existing knowledge about a specific question by applying explicit and reproducible methods to identify, appraise, and then synthesize studies relevant to that question. The best-known products of knowledge synthesis are systematic reviews and meta-analyses.
Good knowledge syntheses seek to include not only studies published formally but also those that can be found in the "gray literature" that circulates via the Internet, scientific conferences, academic courses, etc. But there is a great deal of knowledge that is not written. Most knowledge related to indigenous medicine, for example, is not available in written, much less in accessible published form. Among other contributions to knowledge synthesis, CIET is engaged in developing tools, such as cognitive mapping, for systematic documentation of traditional, local and unwritten knowledge that might otherwise escape scientific review and analysis.
Examples of CIET's work in the field of knowledge synthesis include:
- A systematic review of available literature estimating the impact of demand-side interventions on uptake of routine childhood vaccination in Pakistan, published in 2009
- A decision tool for the SADC countries on HIV/AIDS prevention
- Risk factors associated with recent transmission of TB : a systematic review and meta-analysis, 1994-2005
-A policy-oriented synthesis of evidence for AIDS prevention, South Africa, 2006
- Fleming J, Ledogar RJ. Resilience, an Evolving Concept: A Review of Literature Relevant to Aboriginal Research. Pimatisiwin: A Journal of Indigenous and Aboriginal Health. 2008; 6(2). Available at http://www.pimatisiwin.com/online/?page_id=173.
- Ledogar RJ, Fleming J. Social Capital and Resilience: A Review of Concepts and Selected Literature Relevant to Aboriginal Youth Resilience Research. Pimatisiwin: A Journal of Indigenous and Aboriginal Health. 2008; 6(2). Available at http://www.pimatisiwin.com/online/?page_id=173.
- Fleming J. Ledogar R. Resilience and Indigenous Spirituality: A Literature Review. Pimatisiwin: A Journal of Indigenous and Aboriginal Health. 2008; 6(2). Available at http://www.pimatisiwin.com/online/?page_id=173.
CIET has also contributed to the development of a tool, called AMSTAR, for assessing the methodological quality of systematic reviews. See: Shea BJ, Grimshaw JM, Wells GA, Boers M, Andersson N, Hamel C, Porter AC, Tugwell P, Moher D, Bouter LM. Development of AMSTAR: a measurement tool to assess the methodological quality of systematic reviews. BMC Medical Research Methodology 2007; 7:10. Available from: http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/1471-2288-7-10.pdf.