PUBH5034 Public Health Capstone

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PUBH5034 Public Health Capstone

PUBH5034 and 5035: Guidelines for conducting Public Health Capstone literature search and review

The purpose of the Public Health Capstone literature review is to demonstrate that you have reviewed, and have a good understanding of, the current research, or main published work, concerning a particular topic within your chosen project. The findings of your literature review should provide a rationale and justification for your Capstone project.


The Public Health Capstone literature review will involve a search of the published literature but draws on the principles of systematic review and rapid review methodology to identify relevant and accessible evidence within a limited time frame. It is important to note that the overall scope of each literature review may vary across projects. This document provides general guidelines in conducting a focussed literature review for Capstone purposes, and these should be adjusted based on the nature of your final Capstone deliverable.

Keep in mind that this is not a full literature review – you do not have sufficient time allocated to this task in this unit to do that. However, a well-designed literature search strategy will help you retrieve the relevant literature effectively and in a time-efficient manner. The primary aim of the literature review is to identify the key published work (which may be systematic reviews or individual primary studies) relevant to your study question, to summarise the work, to identify the main strengths and weaknesses of the work, and to consider the implications this has for further work in the area.  This provides the basis for your (research) question that you will address in your Capstone deliverable. PUBH5034 Public Health Capstone


The table below sets out some general steps that might help guide your literature search and review thinking and discussions with your topic leader. These are suggestions only and whether you start at Step 1 or at later Steps will depend on the nature of your topic and what you discuss with your topic leader.

Step Task Description
1 Articulate the context for the review This step will be guided by your topic leader. Its purpose is to ensure that you and your topic leader have a consistent understanding of the context in which your review will be conducted, with respect to your topic project. For example, this could be about stating the nature and extent of the problem being investigated.
2 Develop and refine review question Your literature review should be guided by a research question/s. State the primary question of your review; frame the question as specifically as possible. Does the literature review question logically follow the statement of the problem? Being precise with the review question will provide the framework for your search strategy, including search terms to be considered. This may be an iterative process, where the review question may need some editing and refining based on preliminary search results.
3 Decide on scope of the review This is whether your review should focus on the published existing systematic reviews (review of systematic reviews) or primary studies (in the absence of systematic reviews), and or whether it will be complemented by the grey literature.
4 Conduct literature search and document search methodology Outline search terms and databases used; search period; language; geographical location. Where relevant, set the boundaries of data extraction by identifying the population, intervention types, comparator and outcomes of interest (PICO) or similar framework for qualitative studies. Refer to the literature search documents prepared for this Capstone unit of study. As you proceed through the search, keep a record of your search methodology for reporting purposes.
5 Screen and select studies Select systematic reviews with respect to your review question and agreed scope of the review; or focus on primary studies if there are no or only one or two systematic reviews.
6 Review the literature Critically evaluate and summarise the quality of the included systematic reviews or primary studies in relation to the review question. This step involves a narrative synthesis to give readers a sense of the current state of evidence, quality/quantity of the evidence, and direction of existing evidence.



Guidelines on present findings of your literature review

Background [200 words]: context of the review, statement of the problem, where relevant current state of knowledge and its limitation (‘gap’) and how the rapid review will fill these knowledge gaps.


Methods section [250 words]: for example, search strategy; database sources; eligibility criteria; screening/extraction methods; study types included; outcomes included.


Main review findings and conclusions or key messages, if relevant [700 words]: synthesis and analysis of the relevant work; key findings; methodological limitations/strengths of work; implications for research and/or policy/practice.


Limitations of review [200 words]: are there biases or other methodological issues as a result of the review methods employed? (This section is more a critical reflection of your literature search/review methods, rather than a critique of the research methods).


Justification (if applicable) [150 words]: justification for your proposed project (Capstone Deliverable) in relation to key review findings and messages.


Reference list: references covered in the review – 1-2 pages maximum. A note on page limits: these are guides but intended as upper limits, and assume an 11 pt font size with lines single spaced.



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