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Good review practice: a researcher guide to systematic review methodology in the sciences of food and health

Presenting results

Presenting Results 

What findings to report from systematic review studies?

1- Statistical analysis:

The results of any statistical analysis that is carried by the review authors including any sensitivity analysis or regression, and meta-analysis. These should include any visual analysis and graphics that are derived from the outcomes. 

2- Discussion:

The discussion section of the systematic review should include the following information:

  • Total number of included studies, with reference of their quality 
  • Interpretation of statistical analysis and what they mean for the field of study  
  • Explaining the results of any sensitivity analysis that has been carried to support the conclusion
  • Limitations of the studies
  • Knowledge gaps usually only if, the searching strategies were peer reviewed by experts or designed with gap analysis in mind 

3- Conclusion: 

The conclusion section should be focused on the main findings of the review to answer the review question as specified in the review protocol. Secondary outcomes should be simply reported but not used to explain the results or to be the basis for generating any hypothesis or making conclusions. 

4- Supplementary materials:

These may include:

  • raw datasets collected from the included studies which allow others to conduct secondary analyses.
  • searching methods and strategies used to find evidence for the review. Sufficient details of the searching methods should be clearly recorded and documented for future updates of the systematic reviews or their reuse by others. 
  • for collaborative reviews, and qualitative studies summary tables are documented for presentation, if necessary. They may include the results of quality appraisal and weighting processes and the details of any disagreements between reviewers and how the decisions for inclusions were made.

5- Minimum requirements and editorial limits: 

Scientific journals may require specific levels of information as minimum base for acceptance and often have different editorial limits for peer reviewing process which are set out in their guidelines for authors. It is recommended that authors look up the details of their journal choices before structing their reviews and follow current guidelines to meet minimum requirements and standards which are expected from their work. 


Rhetorical considerations
Using "plain language" is recommended to report findings and to interpret the results of systematic reviews. The Cochrane Handbook for systematic reviews of healthcare interventions recommends using standard terminologies in interpreting the review findings. [12]

References

References

1.           Application of systematic review methodology to food and feed safety assessments to support decision making. EFSA Journal, 2010. 8(6).

2.           McGowan J, et al., PRESS Peer Review of Electronic Search Strategies: 2015 Guideline Statement. Journal of Clinical  Epidemiology, 2016(75): p. 40-46.

3.           Schünemann HJ, et al., Completing ‘Summary of findings’ tables and grading the certainty of the evidence, in Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions version 6.0, T.J. Higgins JPT, Chandler J, Cumpston M, Li T, Page MJ, Welch VA, Editor. 2019, Cochrane.

4.           Viswanathan M, et al., Assessing the Risk of Bias of individual Studies in Systematic Reviews of Health Care Interventions. 2012.

5.           Higgins, J.P., et al., The Cochrane Collaboration's tool for assessing risk of bias in randomised trials. BMJ, 2011. 343: p. d5928.

6.           <Viswanathan et al. - 2016 - Assessing the risk of bias of individual studies in systematic reviews of health care interventions - method-annotated.pdf>.

7.           Higgins JPT, et al., Assessing risk of bias in a randomized trial. Higgins JPT, Thomas J, Chandler J, Cumpston M, Li T, Page MJ, Welch VA in Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions version 6.3 T.J. Higgins JPT, Chandler J, Cumpston M, Li T, Page MJ, Welch VA Editor. 2022, Cochrane.

8.           Popay, J., Roberts, H., Sowden, A., Petticrew, M., Arai, L., Rodgers, Britten, N., K., Roen & Duffy, S, Guidance on the conduct of narrative synthesis in systematic reviews, T.E.a.S.R. Council, Editor. 2006: UK. p. 92.

9.           Deeks JJ, Higgins JPT, and A. DG, Analysing data and undertaking meta-analyses, in Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions version 6.3 T.J. Higgins JPT, Chandler J, Cumpston M, Li T, Page MJ, Welch VA Editor. 2022, Cochrane.

10.         McKenzie JE and B. SE, Synthesizing and presenting findings using other methods, in Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions version 6.3 T.J. Higgins JPT, Chandler J, Cumpston M, Li T, Page MJ, Welch VA Editor. 2022, Cochrane

11.         Coren, E. and M.F. Fisher, The conduct of systematic research reviews for SCIE knowledge reviews. 2006, UK: Social Care Institute for Excellence. 85.

12.         Schünemann HJ, et al., Interpreting results and drawing conclusions, in Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions version 6.3 T.J. Higgins JPT, Chandler J, Cumpston M, Li T, Page MJ, Welch VA Editor., Cochrane.