Rapid Reviews

InSource’s rapid reviews are designed to help guide decision makers who wish to develop and implement policies informed by the best available relevant research, grey literature and expert opinion.  This “evidence-informed” decision-making is also a means of demonstrating increased accountability to stakeholders.

Historically, the greatest challenge facing decision makers has been the length of time it takes to seek, retrieve, synthesize and interpret information from the research literature.  Our rapid review methodology can provide decision makers with the information they need in as little as eight weeks.

What is a rapid review?

Our rapid review methodology takes current knowledge synthesis methods, and modifies them based on time urgency, so that we can best meet our clients’ needs.  A rapid review typically includes four steps:

  • Refining the research question(s) ~ We work in partnership with the decision-maker client to ensure that the question(s) being asked will provide the information they need.  We recruit an expert panel from our extensive local, national and international networks and our client’s suggestions, to validate or refine the question(s).
  • Retrieving the information ~ Our team is skilled and experienced in systematic literature reviews.  We modify the traditional systematic review by conducting a focused review of summary papers and meta-analyses related to the question(s) at-hand. The expert panel is often expanded at this point, to include key individuals discovered in the literature review.  The panel then reviews our draft bibliography to ensure that we are including all key documents from the published and grey literature, and contributes additional papers containing cutting-edge theory and research that may not yet be widely available.
  • Synthesizing the information ~ We review the documents in the finalized bibliography, extract key components, and with feedback from the expert panel, develop statements on the evidence and/or create theoretical frameworks, depending on the research questions.
  • Interpreting the information ~ Working in partnership with the client and our expert panel, we develop key messages that are customized to fit the decision-maker’s particular environment.


The end result is a report for the policy or practice decision-maker that provides a practical understanding of relevant evidence-based knowledge.  Executive summaries and tools may also be produced, all tailored to the final audience, whether they are senior executives, middle managers, or practitioners.