This thesis contributes to the debate on extending the use of systematic reviews to a wider range of policy areas.
It examines ways in which systematic review presents a distinctive approach to synthesising research, exploring the challenges faced by researchers who use systematic review outside clinical medicine and identifying reasons why it is sometimes contentious in the social policy and practice field.
It focuses on two linked challenges: the limited user involvement in systematic reviews and the limited use of systematic reviews in policy and practice.
In social policy research there is a traditional focus on finding ways of involving users in the design, development and implementation of primary research. Although systematic reviews do not have such a strong tradition of user involvement there is a keen interest in carrying out systematic reviews that are useful and used.