A systematic review of systematic reviews….sort of.


In preparation for my own systematic review I took a look at the systematic reviews and meta-analyses published by the lab in 2014 and 2015. The results? We’ve been productive: six separate published papers in five different journals. Five papers are pure ecoblender in authorship (Chris is apparently the only one with friends outside the lab). Four of the papers are systematic review while two are meta-analyses.

Not surprisingly there are a number of similarities between our papers. All papers have a PRIZMA (Preferred reporting items for systematic review and meta-analysis) report as well as a table or list of the included papers, though the exact format and location of each varies by journal. The addition of these two components is not unexpected, in fact I would be more surprised if they were not included. For myself these two components are already planned for my own paper.

The number of studies examined in each review varies. The metas had 32 and 52 papers respectively, with an average of 42. Systematic reviews ranged a bit more going from a low of 39 to a high of 298 (average 168.5). By the looks of it this had a lot to due with the topic of the review. Less studied topics such as the magnet hypothesis will have less papers than a more heavily studied topic. As it stands right now my paper has 119 studies, included so it fits somewhere in the middle. The inclusion of a map was a clean split between systematic reviews and metas. Neither of the metas contained a map while all of the systematic reviews did. By the looks of Amanda’s recent post post, her systematic review in the works will also include a map, and I am planning one for mine as well. Conceptual figures were also split in a similar way though not as neatly. Neither meta had this type of figure but 3 out of the 4 systematic reviews did.

What does this tell us? Well besides the fact that we have an awesome lab, it shows that there are some common features of recently accepted papers that we can include in our future reviews. By planning to include these features in our reviews we can increase our odds of getting published as well as creating more useful analyses of the field.