Jun 20, 2024: The Health Sector Needs Story: an Urgent Upgrade in Learning about Systematic Reviews

In my last story, (https://www.qmed.ngo/donor-connect/  – May 30) , I had written about an important progress in India. I had  mentioned that the ICMR has started providing funding for:

  • Authors of systematic reviews 
  • And for the conducting of courses for authors, to write good reviews. 

I had also stressed upon the need for very systematic search strategies, for such work and that the majority in India are not trained in this activity. We at QMed not only offer such help and training; but we are also constantly upgrading our knowledge so that we can offer the best of help.

Soon after I wrote this, I happened to attend a webinar where a couple of librarians from the University of Michigan shared their experiences of a study they conducted. The webinar was titled:

Behind the Scenes of “A Critical Analysis of Peer Reviewer Comments on Systematic Review Search Strategies”

The webinar very interestingly was about – “An analysis of the quality of search peer review at the manuscript stage”

Most people know something about Peer reviewing of a journal article. When it comes to systematic reviews, the peer reviewing is not only about the study reporting. 

A very important need is the peer reviewing of the search strategies carried out and how they have been reported.* 

As we mentioned in our last story, for a systematic review, the search strategies are  “The Foundation” of a systematic review. Additionally well done reviews are updated at reasonably regular intervals with inclusion and re-analyses of new study results. That is how evidence stays current! 

The study done by the librarians showed how often search strategies were not done in detail, often reported very poorly,  peer reviewers missed errors and in the end, “less than desirable quality reviews” actually made it to publication! 

This is not healthy if we want health care to be evidence based. That is a serious problem!

Now we might think – “If this is the condition in the developed nations, it is not surprising that it is similar or poorer in India”.

My answer to this is – if the IT industry from India could become world class, why not our medical publications? 

Instead of consoling ourselves, we need to wake up! We need to think seriously about upgrading ourselves and our publications. We need to

  1. Carry out and publish great primary research
  2. And from these – synthesize and generate world class secondary research, producing the best available evidence at any point of time!

We have the “population of patients” – to conduct lots of research. We have the brains in the medical field. Why should we let the lacuna of methodology affect our publications?   

Our call to action:

  1. Do join us and learn – at www.qmedcourses.in
  2. Better still – please get your institution to subscribe and provide access to all faculty and students. 

The slides presented at this talk are available athttps://guides.lib.umich.edu/ld.php?content_id=76872906

Note: This is a monthly update from QMed. You could unsubscribe if you wish to (See below) 

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