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Northwell/ZSOM Evidence Synthesis

Conducting Manuals & Reporting Guidelines - What's the Difference?

When you are doing an evidence synthesis project, it is important to follow conducting manuals and reporting guidelines.  They are two very different things.  The difference is explained below.  After reading this page, if you understand why you should never say that a review was "conducted according to PRISMA guidelines" then you can be confident you know the difference. 

Conducting Manuals

Conducting Manuals tell you how to conduct a review and describe each step you must take to successfully do the work. The guidance provided by the manual you choose to follow gives you the standard methodology applicable to every review of that type.  

Think of it this way: if you wanted to drive your car from your home to the Library, you would need to know the method of driving the car.  The things you do to safely drive (stop at stop signs, no right turn on red, keep a safe distance from other cars) are all found in the driver's manual.  Conducting manuals work the same way.

Reporting Guidelines

Reporting Guidelines tell you how to write up a report of your review, so that other researchers can replicate your work. It is important that your report is transparent and contains all the information that readers need to understand and follow each step you took in the process.  

Think of it this way: if you wanted to tell someone else how to drive their car from your home to the Library, you would need to provide the directions to them to get there. You could show them on a map or text them the Google Maps directions to give them the steps you take to drive your car from home to the Library, so that they can follow your exact route.  Reporting guidelines work the same way.

For systematic reviews and scoping reviews, we recommend using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. PRISMA is an evidence-based minimum set of items for reporting in systematic reviews and meta-analyses.


Need any other reporting guideline?

Need any other reporting guideline? Search the Equator Network:

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