A guide to performing systematic literature reviews in bioinformatics

D.C.B. Mariano, C. Leite, L.H.S. Santos, R.E.O. Rocha, R.C. de Melo-Minardi

Research output: Working paperPreprint


Bioinformatics research depends on high-quality databases to provide accurate results. In silico experiments, correctly performed, may prospect novel discoveries and elucidates pathways for biological experiments through data analysis in large scale. However, most biological databases have presented mistakes, such as data incorrectly classified or incomplete information. Also, sometimes, data mining algorithms cannot treat these errors, leading to serious problems for the in silico analysis. Manual curation of data extracted from literature is a possible solution for this problem. Systematic Literature Review (SLR), or Systematic Review, is a method to identify, evaluate and summarize the state-of-the-art of a specific theme. Moreover, SLR allows the collection from databases restrictively, which allows an analysis with lower bias than traditional reviews. The SRL approaches have been widely used for decision-making in medical and environmental studies. However, other research areas, such as bioinformatics, do not have a specific step-by-step to guide researchers undertaking the procedures of an SLR. In this study, we propose a guideline, called BiSRL, to perform SLR in bioinformatics. Our procedures cover the most traditional guides to produce SLRs adapted to bioinformatics. To evaluate our method, we propose a case study to detect and summarize SLRs developed for bioinformatics data. We used two databases: PubMed and ScienceDirect. A total of 207 papers were screened in four steps: title, abstract, diagonal reading, and full-text reading. Four evaluators performed the SLR independently to reduce bias risk. A total of eight papers was included in the SLR case study. The case study demonstrates how to implement the methods of BiSLR to procedure SLR for bioinformatics. BiSLR may guide bioinformaticians to perform systematic reviews reproducible to collect accurate data for higher quality analysis.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages63
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jul 2017
Externally publishedYes


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