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Gerstein Science Information Centre

Knowledge syntheses: Systematic & Scoping Reviews, and other review types

What are reporting guidelines?

According to the Equator Network, a reporting guideline is defined as "a simple, structured tool for health researchers to use while writing manuscripts" and "reporting guidelines are more than just some thoughts about what needs to be in an academic paper." 

They specifically define a reporting guideline as: “a checklist, flow diagram, or structured text to guide authors in reporting a specific type of research, developed using explicit methodology."

Whether presented as structured text or a checklist, a reporting guideline:

  • presents a clear list of reporting items that should appear in a paper and
  • explains how the list was developed

To view a list of reporting guidelines for a variety of study designs, view Equator Network's list.

Commonly used guidelines in knowledge syntheses:
  • The PRISMA-P checklist of 27 items pertain to the content of a systematic review and meta-analysis, which include the title, abstract, methods, results, discussion, and funding.

​Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses
  • The Preferred Reporting Guidelines for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses from PRISMA
Scoping Reviews
  • The PRISMA-ScR was published in 2018. The checklist contains 20 essential reporting items and 2 optional items to include when completing a scoping review. Scoping reviews serve to synthesize evidence and assess the scope of literature on a topic. Among other objectives, scoping reviews help determine whether a systematic review of the literature is warranted. 

Rapid Reviews
Realist Reviews

Grading the Evidence

The Mayo Clinic Library's Systematic Review guide also provides an excellent list of resources on grading the strength of evidence when conducting a systematic review. Please see their resources on the right-hand side of the guide.