Planning to write a systematic review? If so, then the following editorial “Implementing PRISMA-P: recommendations for prospective authors” published in this month’s edition of Systematic Reviews is a must read. Moher et al, reveal that the journal has endorsed the reporting guideline, Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Protocols (PRISMA-P), and will apply it to future submissions.
To improve the standard of systematic review writing and prevent any bias, such as selective outcome reporting, the completed review should be compared with its protocol. However, not all systematic reviews publish their protocol or even report using one, so this can be difficult. Why is this? Moher et al, suggest that this may be because, up until now, there has been little support available in how to report the protocols. PRISMA-P gives guidance to prospective authors by providing a 17-item checklist, to help “in the preparation and reporting of a scientifically rigorous systematic review protocol”. This checklist should then be submitted along with the protocol and if accepted will be included as an appendix to the article. With immediate effect any submissions that have not followed the recommendations and/or have not included a completed checklist will be returned to the authors. They will be invited to resubmit once they have adhered to the PRISMA-P guidelines.
Systematic reviews are a key source of information which can help put results into context and provide rationales for further research. In fact, some agencies and journals advocate their use. For this reason, readers must be able to trust the information held within and this new publication strategy by Systematic Reviews aims to do just this.