David Moher, from the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute; University of Ottawa, and an international consortium of contributors publish the PRISMA guidelines: a set of tools developed to help authors improve the reporting of systematic reviews and meta-analyses. In order to ensure wide distribution, the guidelines are being published simultaneously in several medical journals: Annals of Internal Medicine, the BMJ, Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, Open Medicine, and PLoS Medicine.
Systematic reviews involve the use of explicit methods to answer a clearly defined research question through collection of existing data from the research literature, and are widely adopted within healthcare. These types of studies frequently inform clinical guidelines, clinical practice, and the direction of future research. However, existing evidence suggests that systematic reviews and meta-analyses are typically poorly done and poorly reported.
The PRISMA Statement uses recent advances in the science of systematic reviews to update a previous set of guidelines, the QUOROM Statement (QUality Of Reporting Of Metaanalyses), originally published in 1999. The updated guidelines set out tools for researchers to transparently and accurately report their systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Straightforward checklist and flow diagram templates are provided for authors of such studies to complete and include in the papers they submit for publication.
An accompanying "Explanation and Elaboration" paper (Liberati A et al) includes detailed examples guiding authors on best practice in reporting, and justifies each element of the guidelines.
PLoS Medicine endorses the PRISMA statement, and encourages other journals to do the same.
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Public Library of Science