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Your systematic review should contain each of the following sections:

  1. TITLE - The title should identify what the report is about and what it is (systematic review, meta-analysis, or both).
  2. ABSTRACT - The abstract should provide a structured summary of the parts of the review.
  3. INTRODUCTION - The introduction should describe why the review is needed (the rationale for the review) and the review objectives (the question being addressed).
  4. METHODS - The methods section should include a thorough description of how the systematic review was conducted, including whether or not you created a protocol and where it is registered, what your eligibility or inclusion criteria were, what your sources of information were and the date they were searched, your full search strategy, your process for selecting studies and collecting data, the data collected, how risk of bias was assessed on an individual study basis and across studies, your summary measures (risk ratio, difference in mean, etc.), and how results were synthesized and analyzed. If you have a protocol, much of this information can be taken from there.
  5. RESULTS - The results section should include the findings of your review, including a description of the studies screened for eligibility and the studies selected, the characteristics of the included studies, the risk of bias for each individual study, the results of each individual study, a synthesis of the data for each outcome considered, the risk of bias across studies, and any additional analysis conducted.
  6. DISCUSSION - The discussion section should include a summary of the main findings of the report, including the strength of evidence for each outcome and the findings' relevance to key groups, the limitations of the report, and a conclusion that contains a general interpretation of the results.
  7. FUNDING - Any funding received for the review and the role of the funders in the review should be described in this section.

For more information, check out the PRISMA checklist (PDF).

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