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Systematic Reviews: Guidelines

Resources to Support Work in Systematic Reviews


Guidelines for Systematic Reviews

MECIR (Methodological Expectations of Cochrane Intervention Reviews)
Standards for the reporting of new Cochrane Intervention Reviews  

PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) (formerly QUOROM)

PRISMA for Abstracts

MOOSE (Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies in Epidemiology) 

Guidelines for Other Study Designs
These should be used when evaluating studies to include in a reviews

AGREE (Appraisal of Guidelines for Research andEvaluation)

CONSORT (Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials)

STARD (STAndards for the Reporting of Diagnostic Accuracy studies) 

Guidelines for Search Strategies

PRESS (Peer Review of Electronic Search Strategies)

STARLITE StatementStandards for Reporting Literature Searches (Sampling strategy, Type of study, Approaches, Range of years, Limits, Inclusion and exclusions, Terms used, Electronic sources) 

  • Booth A. "Brimful of STARLITE’’: toward standards for reporting literature searchesJ Med Libr Assoc. 2006 Oct; 94(4):421-429, e205. PMID: 17082834 (PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE)
  • Table 3

    Elements of the STARLITE mnemonic


    Explanatory notes

    S: Sampling strategy


    ·          Comprehensive: attempts to identify all relevant studies on the topic

    ·          Selective: attempts to identify all relevant studies but only within specified limits

    ·          Purposive: samples from specific disciplines, years, journals

    T: Type of studies


    ·          Fully reported: describes actual study types (e.g., grounded theory) or designs to be included

    ·          Partially reported: uses an ‘‘umbrella’’ category such as ‘‘qualitative studies’’ without defining what this means

    A: Approaches


    ·          Approaches other than electronic subject searches (see below)
    Example: hand-searching

    ·          Citation snowballing

    R: Range of years (start date–end date)

    ·          Fully reported: includes start and end dates with justification for time period chosen

    ·          Partially reported: includes start and end dates but only determined available coverage of databases

    L: Limits


    ·          Functional limits that are applied for logistic reasons but do not alter the topic conceptually (e.g., human, English etc.)

    I: Inclusion and exclusions

    ·          Conceptual limitations that mediate the scope of the topic area (e.g., geographical location, setting, or a specific focus of study)


    T: Terms used

    ·          Fully present: example of a sample search strategy from one or more of the main databases

    ·          Partially present: reports terminology used but without evidence of search syntax and operators

    E: Electronic sources

    ·          Reports databases used and, optimally, search platforms and vendors to assist in replication

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