Supporting systematic reviews

Yesterday, PLoS Medicine – along with several other journals, Annals of Internal Medicine, BMJ, Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, and Open Medicine – published the PRISMA guidelines, aimed at improving the quality of reporting of systematic reviews and meta-analyses in healthcare. These guidelines are the end result of many years of collaboration of an international group of researchers and editors.

The first paper is a short set of guidelines which sets out tools for researchers to transparently and accurately report their systematic reviews and meta-analyses. An accompanying “Explanation and Elaboration” paper includes detailed examples guiding authors on best practice in reporting, and justifies each element of the guidelines. Accurate reporting of these types of papers is particularly important, given the influence of systematic reviews and meta-analyses on clinical practice, clinical guidelines, and medical research.

Widespread dissemination and reuse of such guidelines is absolutely key, which is why PLoS Medicine is delighted that PRISMA is available as open-access. Readers who would like to know more about guideline development should take a look at the EQUATOR website, which aims to promote transparent and accurate reporting of research.

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