PRISMA guidelines

The November meeting of the UHL Writing Club looked at reporting guidelines, specifically the PRISMA guidelines for reporting a systematic review.   Keith Nockels, one of the UHL Clinical Librarian team, was the presenter.   Keith has presented before about reporting guidelines, and has increasing experience of involvement in systematic reviews as the literature searcher.

We looked at what reporting guidelines are, and at the Equator Network Library, which is a library of reporting guidelines and can be used to identify the ones you need to use, and provide details and links to the guidelines themselves.

We then looked at PRISMA, and looked at a published systematic review to see how it measured up.

One of the participants (thank you!) drew our attention to the MOOSE reporting guidelines for reporting synthesis of case control, cohort or cross sectional studies.  PRISMA is really for reporting a synthesis of RCTs or similar studies.

Here are the slides: UHL Writing Club Reporting guidelines prisma.


Writing up a systematic review?

Come to November’s Writing Club, where Keith Nockels, Clinical Librarian, will talk about the PRISMA reporting guidelines.    These tell you what to write about and what to include.   Many journals insist you use PRISMA when writing up your review but even if you are not required to do so, using it will make your review more useful to those who read and use it, and ensure you don’t miss anything out.     PRISMA can also help you plan a review.

If you are planning or doing a systematic review, or just want to find out more, please come along.

Keith presented in November 2016 about reporting guidelines generally, has been (and is) involved in several systematic review projects.

When: Thursday 16th November 2017, 1-2 pm.

Where: Odames Meeting Room, Odames Library, Victoria Building, LRI.

Book your (free) placeemail us or ring (0116 258) 5558.

Where to publish your article?

Two publishers (at least) have their own tools to help you choose a journal to submit to.

Springer Nature’s Journal Suggester needs article title and some text, and a subject category.  You can search for journals with a particular impact factor, minimum acceptance rate and time to first decision.   You will get a list of suggested Springer, Nature or BioMed Central titles to consider.

I made up a title (about comprehensive geriatric assessment and the cardiac care unit) and very short abstract.

Selecting Medicine and Public Health as the subject, I got a list with geriatrics titles at numbers 1, 2, 7 and 10.   The remaining 6 titles did not look relevant, and none of the titles were cardiology journals.

Elsevier’s Journal Finder, choosing Life and health sciences, gave me a list with two geriatrics titles in it.   Most suggestions were critical care, with two orthopaedics.  Again none were cardiology.

But what if you don’t know which publisher you prefer?

JANE, the Journal/Author Name Estimator, from Erasmus Medical Center’s Biosemantics Group in Rotterdam, compares your text with articles in Medline (more about how it works).

My made up very short abstract worked better than the title, the list of suggestions including geriatrics titles, but only at numbers 1 and 8.   The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews was at 3, which of course would not accept a submission.

I then repeated my test with a published abstract (CONFLICT OF INTEREST ALERT – I get an acknowledgement in this paper!).   Springer’s top 3 were all geriatrics, as was number 10.  Four of Elsevier’s top five suggestions were geriatrics, although number 3 was forensic medicine.   JANE had the title that published this paper at number 1, but the abstract was presumably an exact match.    The second on the list was a generalist title, but a possibility.   The next geriatrics title was below the top 10.

JANE can also suggest authors and this seemed to find some people I’d associate with CGA, but not others.

So how useful are these tools?

Two of them assume you have chosen the publisher you need.

JANE might work better with longer texts.   It would be interesting to test it against actual articles that people want to submit for publication, and compare results with the author’s own thoughts about where they want to publish.

JANE cannot take your thoughts into account.  Who do I want to read my made up article?   Maybe not people involved in care of older people, but people working in cardiac care.   But if not many cardiology journals have published on CGA, would JANE suggest any?

How do you decide where to publish?   Have you used JANE or a publisher tool?

The Library can help you identify relevant journals to consider, and then can find instructions to authors.   Contact us if we can help.

Register your systematic review in PROSPERO

PROSPERO is a “prospective register of systematic reviews”, that is, a register of protocols of systematic reviews currently being done.

If you are starting on a systematic review, search PROSPERO to check if anything similar is under way.  Search Medline and other databases too to check that nothing similar has already been published.

When you start your review, register it.   Register for an account on PROSPERO, and check your review is eligible for inclusion.   To be eligible, your protocol must be agreed, ideally you should not have started screening studies for inclusion (although you might still be eligible if you have not moved beyond data extraction).   Your review must have a health related outcome, and must not be complete.

There are guidance notes and more details here about eligibility.

Entries in PROSPERO show you full details of who is involved, how the review will be conducted, including search terms, inclusion and exclusion criteria, data synthesis and dissemination.  CRD assign subject headings to the record and that record has a URL that you can send to colleagues.

Involve your librarian in your review.  We can help.   If you want to do your own searching (or the review is being assessed and you have to), book a session with us for advice.   Or ask us to join the review team and do the searching and reference management (in return for an acknowledgement, or better still, co-authorship).   Our skills will make your review even better!

Presenting your research to the media

This is the theme of our September meeting, when we welcome Rachael Dowling, the Trust’s Research Communications Manager.

  • What do journalists look for in a research story?
  • How can you build your own research story for the media?
  • Where does social media fit into this picture?

If you have research or other work that you want to talk to the media about, do come along.

Book your free place by phoning the Odames Library on 5558 / 0116 258 5558, or by emailing the Odames Library.

When: Tuesday 12th September

Time: 1 – 2 pm

Place: Odames Meeting Room, Odames Library (Victoria, LRI).

Writing Club for May: Measuring the impact of your research

We welcome Laurian Williamson, Open Access and Research Data Manager at the University of Leicester.   Laurian will speak about measuring and increasing the impact of your research outputs, whether publications or research data.

How can you promote your work effectively?    How can you measure current reach and impact?    How can you increase that impact?

Laurian will talk about:

  • Citations, citation counts and citation indexes
  • Journal metrics and author metrics
  • Altmetrics
  • New metrics, for research data metrics

May’s Writing Club will be on Tuesday 16th May, from 1 pm to 2 pm, in the Odames Meeting Room, Odames Library, Victoria Building, LRI.

All UHL staff welcome.   To book a free place, please ring the Clinical Librarians on 5558 or email

More about predatory journals

Some recent interesting reading about this subject.

The Times Higher Education blog has just published a piece by researchers from the Centre for Journalology in Ottawa, on how to spot a “predatory” journal. It has some interesting things to say about the now defunct Beall’s List and presents a checklist of 13 warning signs to help you detect an “illegitimate publishing entity” (their preferred term).

A recent Minerva column in the BMJ refers to a study reported in Nature, in which a Dr Anna O. Szust applied to a large number of “predatory” journals asking to be an editor.    48 out of the 360 accepted her and 4 of those made her editor in chief.   Polish speakers among you (sadly I am not one) will spot that oszust means “fraud”.

The New York Times covered this story.    Minerva also refers to a study in BMC Medicine, involving the two THE blog authors, on how to tell the difference between a predatory and a legitimate biomedical journal.