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ACAP Library Pathfinder: Systematic Searching for a Review

This guide provides a methodology for planning and creating a multi-database search strategy for students who are writing a review.

PRISMA Guidelines

PRISMA reporting guidelines and checklists are designed to be used by authors who are publishing systematic reviews. As a student, you may want to use all or part of these to assist with the writing of your reviews.  However, before doing this please check suitability with assessment outlines and marking rubrics or discuss the use of PRISMA with your supervisor.

What is PRISMA?

PRISMA was developed as a reporting standard to ensure "reviewers transparently report why the review was done, what the authors did, and what they found" (Page et al., 2021).  Page et al. (2021) summarise the guidelines as follows: 

  • To ensure a systematic review is valuable to users, authors should prepare a transparent, complete, and accurate account of why the review was done, what they did, and what they found.
  • The PRISMA 2020 statement provides updated reporting guidance for systematic reviews that reflects advances in methods to identify, select, appraise, and synthesise studies.
  • The PRISMA 2020 statement consists of an expanded 27-item checklist that details reporting recommendations for each item, the PRISMA 2020 abstract checklist, and revised flow diagrams for original and updated reviews. 

PRISMA resources include:

The PRISMA-S extension for reporting searches includes a 16 point checklist which aims to assist in the reporting of systemised searches for review articles. 


Further Reading

Page, M. J., McKenzie, J. E., Bossuyt, P. M., Boutron, I., Hoffmann, T. C., Mulrow, C. D., Shamseer, L., Tetzlaff, J. M., Akl, E. A., Brennan, S. E., Chou, R., Glanville, J., Grimshaw, J. M., Hróbjartsson, A., Lalu, M. M., Li, T., Loder, E. W., Mayo-Wilson, E., McDonald, S., … Moher, D. (2021). The PRISMA 2020 statement: An updated guideline for reporting systematic reviews. BMJ (Online)372.