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Mesa redonda: Systematic Literature Reviews: Keep the Hat On


  • Coral Calero, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha (España)
  • Xavier Franch, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (España)
  • Daniel Mendez, Blekinge Institute of Technology (Suecia)
  • Günther Ruhe, Univeristy of Calgary (Canada)


  • Oscar Díaz, Universidad del País Vasco (España)


Systematic literature review (SLR) is a formal, structured process to conduct literature reviews. SLRs are goal-driven activities that result in unbiased, repeatable, comprehensive reviews that evaluate and synthesize results of multiple primary studies. SLRs are among the most cited journal publications and reckoned to be useful for students, academics and practitioners alike. Yet, conducting an SLR is not trivial. It involves a lot of time (some estimates give the figure of at least one year), requires a lot of manual work, and benefits are frequently limited to synthesis while overlooking gap spotting. On top, there is a tendency to look down to SLR as it can be somehow distilled from CNEAI description where works not to be considered include: “– Las meras revisiones recopilatorias, sin ninguna aportación original, aunque estén publicadas en revistas indexadas.” The aim of this panel is to consider the trade-offs of SLR not only for academics but for other stakeholders: PhD students, practitioners or decision takers. Participants are offered two hats: the consumer hat vs the provider hat.

Consumer Hat:

  • Which is the likelihood of finding a reference to an SLR in one of your papers?
  • For which purpose (synthesis, gap spotting). Did the reading of an SLR ever trigger a research impulse? Is there any research that starts from a gap spotted at an SLR conducted by someone else?
  • Would any SLRs have ever caused a «falling off a horse» in your research ?
  • In medicine, SLRs inform decision takers. Are you aware of a similar scenario in Software Engineering? Please elaborate
  • Do you think practitioners benefit from SLR? If not, how could this be changed?

Provider Hat:

  • How many SLRs have you authored?
  • Would any of your SLRs be in your top ten most ‘cherished’ publications? (not in terms of cites but being especially proud of)
  • Do you think students benefit from SLR? What is the trade-off between research advance and SLR raw data preparation? Would a literature review (without the need for being systematic) report the same benefits without involving a large set of primary studies? Does the SLR publication compensate for the time dedicated to ‘dull’ activities (data extraction), considering student time for a PhD is very limited (three years)?
  • From 1 (over my dead body) to 10 (entirely enthusiastic), how much would you recommend PhD students to conduct an SLR? Which should be the time limit? Please elaborate