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How To Use the PRISMA Checklist

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The PRISMA statement is the primary standard used to conduct systematic reviews. In fact, it is the most cited systematic review guideline in the biomedical literature.

Ever since the original PRISMA (more formally known as the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses) statement was published, numerous extensions of and updates to PRISMA have been released to stay current with ongoing advances in knowledge acquisition and synthesis methods.

Getting Started With the PRISMA Checklist

The PRISMA checklist consists of 27 items that were developed to improve the transparency, completeness, and accuracy of systematic reviews. Anyone who uses the checklist as part of conducting a review, or who is submitting a manuscript for peer review, can look at our PRISMA checklist example to get familiar with how the checklist is used in practice.

Educating yourself on how and why to use the PRISMA checklist will help tremendously when it is time for your manuscript review.

Following the Checklist

The PRISMA checklist is divided into sections, each containing a variety of topics that need to be evaluated. The sections include Title, Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, and Other Information.
Before conducting any review or completing the PRISMA checklist, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the topics and items that will need to be covered.

Why the PRISMA Checklist Is Used

The PRISMA statement and its extensions are an evidence-based, minimum set of recommendations that were written to encourage transparent and complete reporting of systematic reviews.

These guidelines help authors understand exactly what peer reviewers and journal editors are looking for in a systematic review manuscript. PRISMA outlines what needs to be covered for different knowledge synthesis methods and ensures that all aspects of the research are accurate and transparent.

The PRISMA statement is essentially a roadmap that can help authors effectively describe what work was done, what was discovered, and what the implications are for future research.

Extensions of PRISMA

Because scientific work varies considerably, there are extensions of the PRISMA checklist, including:

  • PRISMA-ScR, or the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses extension for Scoping Reviews. This extension is meant to help researchers and readers understand the relevant terminology, core concepts, and other key items integral to a scoping review.
  • PRISMA-P, or the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analysis for Protocols. This extension supports the production of detailed, robust protocols for systematic reviews.

Who PRISMA Is Designed to Assist

PRISMA was developed to help authors and researchers produce transparent accounts of their systematic review research. PRISMA also enables journal peer reviewers and editors to critique and appraise the completeness and accuracy of manuscripts being considered for publication. Note that PRISMA is not a quality assessment instrument that gauges the quality of a systematic review.

Additional Resources Related to PRISMA Reviews

There are numerous resources that can be found online or downloaded to help prepare for a PRISMA review. The PRISMA website also provides additional information about the PRISMA process and its background. This includes:

  • PRISMA 2020 statement
  • PRISMA 2020 explanation and elaboration
  • PRISMA 2020 checklist
  • PRISMA 2020 flow diagram
  • History and development of PRISMA 2020
  • PRISMA funding
  • Citing and using PRISMA 2020

Reviewing these resources could be helpful if you want to learn more about how to use the PRISMA checklist as effectively as possible.

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Moving Forward With the PRISMA Checklist

The PRISMA website also encourages journals to endorse the checklist. Endorsement has been found to be associated with more thorough reporting on systematic reviews and helps with the continuous improvement of the PRISMA process.

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