Methods and guidance on conducting, reporting, publishing and appraising living systematic reviews: a scoping review
2Department of Medicine, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon
3Department of Anaesthesiology, Intensive Care, Emergency and Pain Medicine, University Hospital Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany
4Evidence Production and Methods Directorate, Cochrane Central Executive Team, Cochrane, London, United Kingdom
5Rafic Hariri School of Nursing, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon
Background: The living systematic review (LSR) approach is based on an ongoing surveillance of the evidence and continual updating. Currently available guidance documents address the conduct, reporting, publishing and appraisal for systematic reviews (SRs), but are not tailored for LSRs per se, and they usually miss additional LSR-specific aspects.
Objectives: In this scoping review, we aim to systematically collate methodological guidance literature on how to conduct, report, publish and appraise the quality of LSRs and identify current gaps of guidance.
Methods: Standard scoping review methodology from the Joanna Briggs Institute was used. We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Cochrane Library (OVID), until 28 August 2021. Two authors independently screened in Rayyan and extracted data using a pilot tested data extraction form. We extracted information according to our four pre-defined categories on (i) conducting, (ii) reporting, (iii) publishing and (iv) appraising LSRs and mapped the data in visualizing overview tables. This review was part of a 'PRISMA extension for LSRs' project (Kahale, 2022).
Results: Of the 21 included papers, methodological guidance was found in 17 papers for conducting, six papers for reporting, 15 papers for publishing and two papers for appraising LSRs. For each category we are presenting all the identified LSR items, how often they have been reported on and gaps of guidance evidence (table 1). Some of the identified key items for (i) conducting LSRs, were identifying the rationale, screening tools or re-revaluating inclusion criteria and of (ii) the original PRISMA checklist, were reporting the registration and protocol, title or synthesis methods. For (iii) publishing, some key items were on publication type and frequency or update trigger and for (iv) appraising, were on appropriate use of bias assessment or reporting funding of included studies. Regarding gaps of evidence, we noted that particularly guidance on the PRISMA items reporting on the results, discussion, support and funding and availability of data and material of a LSR is lacking.
Conclusions: There is a need to make more guidance available on how to adequately report in LSRs and appraise their quality. Our findings were applied to inform and prepare a PRISMA extension for LSR.