Inclusion and exclusion criteria are a list of pre-defined characteristics to which literature must adhere to be included in a study. They are vital for the decision-making progress on what to review when undertaking a systematic review and will also help with systematic literature reviews.
You should be able to establish your inclusion/exclusion criteria during the process of defining your question. These criteria clearly demonstrate the scope of the study and provide justification for the exclusion of any information that does not meet these characteristics.
Inclusion/exclusion criteria may cover the following aspects:
e.g. stage 4 lung disease patients or
e.g. community-based care
e.g. age, sex ethnicity etc.
i.e. whether the study's reported outcomes are relevant to your study and have been presented objectively
e.g. last 5 years
e.g. randomised control trial
e.g. over 100 participants
e.g. UK based
e.g. primary research, peer-reviewed