This might cause policymakers or practitioners to make an expensive or damaging decision.
One well known example is a review published in 1967 that suggested fat and cholesterol – not sugar – were the most important dietary factors in causing coronary heart disease.
One is the quality and appropriateness of the studies going into the review.
The other is the quality and appropriateness of the methods used to review the evidence.
Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses, or PRISMA, is commonly used in the field of health care.
Recently, I worked together with Biljana Macura (Stockholm Environment Institute), Paul Whaley (Lancaster Environment Centre), and Andrew Pullin (Bangor University) to develop a new set of standards.
There is an enormous amount of academic research in the world. The volume of research articles doubles every nine years.
In 2010 there were already estimated to be more than 50 million research papers on pretty much every subject imaginable (and some we’d struggle to imagine).
This allows the reader to be sure that the author has acted appropriately with the available information.
Instead, literature reviews very often lack even basic transparency regarding how they were undertaken and therefore cannot be repeated or checked for errors.