Systematic reviews and meta-analyses play a crucial role in evidence-based medicine, combining data from multiple studies on a topic to arrive at more robust conclusions than if individual studies are considered in isolation. However, it’s possible that poorly conducted literature reviews introduce bias into the findings and undermine the validity of systematic reviews. The lack of consensus guidelines on the transparent reporting of literature searches compounds this problem and has led to the development and recent publication of the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses literature search (PRISMA-S) extension to the PRISMA Statement.
PRISMA-S was published in Systematic Reviews by Melissa Rethlefsen and colleagues. Designed to complement the PRISMA Statement and its existing extensions, the checklist of 16 items provides consensus-based guidance on reporting the literature search components of systematic reviews under the following headings:
- information sources and methods
- search strategies
- peer review
- managing records.
The checklist is designed for use in all fields of research and to cover the whole range of literature review types including scoping reviews, mixed methods reviews and metanarrative reviews. Importantly, PRISMA-S also provides guidance on reporting searches of sources other than literature databases, such as web search engines and study registries, for which there is little existing guidance.
The authors hope that PRISMA-S will be adopted by researchers – and by journals as part of the peer review process – to promote greater transparency and reproducibility of systematic literature reviews.
With the checklist available and a webinar planned to discuss how best to implement PRISMA-S, the authors hope that PRISMA-S will be adopted by researchers – and by journals as part of the peer review process – to promote greater transparency and reproducibility of systematic literature reviews.
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