ARC WM Blog Content
Synthesis Without Meta-Analysis
Another BMJ, another reporting guideline. This one is really quite important because it deals with a somewhat nebulous area: that of synthesis without meta-analysis. The guideline seeks to make the synthesis more transparent, in an area that is inevitably subjective. While there is an inevitable overlap between a guideline for reporting and a guideline for the conduct of a study, the two are not equivalent and should not be treated as such. Readers are directed to chapter 12 of the Cochrane handbook for advice on the conduct of a synthesis without meta-analysis.
The authors writing in the BMJ, eschew the term ‘narrative synthesis’. I agree with them, all research must synthesise a story in narrative form and the term is used to cover up all sorts of sloppy practice.
Richard Lilford, ARC WM Director
- Campbell A, et al. Synthesis without meta-analysis (SWiM) in systematic reviews: reporting guideline. BMJ. 2020; 368: L6890.
- McKenzie JE & Brennan SE. Chapter 12: Synthesizing and presenting findings using other methods. In: Higgins J, Thomas J (eds). Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions. 2019.