From Kitchenham et al 2009 we have this description of systematic literature reviews. This particular report is a tertiary study surveying systematic literature reviews (which are themselves secondary studies), so this report is based on concrete examples as well as idealizations. Note that there is in software engineering some concern that systematic literature reviews are being applied to questions that are too broad for the power of the method.
Evidence-based research and practice was developed initially in medicine because research indicated that expert opinion based medical advice was not as reliable as advice based on the accumulation of results from scientific experiments. Since then many domains have adopted this approach, e.g. Criminology, Social policy, Economics, Nursing etc. Based on Evidence-based medicine, the goal of Evidence-based Software Engineering is:
‘‘To provide the means by which current best evidence from
research can be integrated with practical experience and
human values in the decision making process regarding the
development and maintenance of software”
In this context, evidence is defined as a synthesis of best quality scientific studies on a specific topic or research question. The main method of synthesis is a systematic literature review (SLR). In contrast to an expert review using ad hoc literature selection, an SLR is a methodologically rigorous review of research results. The aim of an SLR is not just to aggregate all existing evidence on a research question; it is also intended to support the development of evidence-based guidelines for practitioners. The end point of EBSE is for practitioners to use the guidelines to provide appropriate software engineering solutions in a specific context.