Epistemonikos database methods

Methods

This page presents a summary of Epistemonikos’ methods. A full description is in process of submission for publication to a medical journal. Additional information can be requested to contact@epistemonikos.org

Criteria for considering articles for Epistemonikos database

We select articles in three main categories plus one secondary category:

Broad Synthesis

We group in this category different types of articles aiming to make a synthesis of systematic reviews and, sometimes, primary studies.

We consider a broad synthesis for inclusion if:

  1. Reports an explicit method that includes searching in at least one electronic database.
  2. Its main objective is to synthesize systematic reviews. Primary studies can be searched for to complement the results of reviews.
  3. A list of included reviews and studies is available, or it is possible to obtain it from the full text, tables, or appendices.
  4. Does not fulfill exclusion criteria (see below).

Synthesis of primary studies (e.g. systematic reviews)

We consider a systematic review for inclusion if it fulfills the following criteria:

  1. Provides a description of at least one eligibility criterion
  2. Its main objective is to synthesize primary studies (other synthesis might be used as an additional source for studies).
  3. Reports an explicit method that includes searching in at least one electronic database
  4. A list of included studies is available, or it is possible to obtain it from the full text, tables, or appendices.
  5. Does not fulfill exclusion criteria (see below).

We also include synthesis of primary studies that do not fulfill the above definition but are judged to add valuable information. Some examples are individual patient meta-analysis or meta-analysis of unpublished data.

Studi iniziali

Primary study is an umbrella term that includes any study design, qualitative or quantitative, where data is collected from individuals or groups of people.

We read the full text of the articles in the above categories to extract the list of included studies that the authors reported, and we incorporate them to the database if they do not fulfill exclusion criteria (see below). We do not add any additional criteria to those imposed by the researchers conducting the systematic reviews.

Riassunti strutturati

Apart from the 3 main categories we also include a secondary category of structured summaries. Structured summaries are summaries of an article developed for non-research audiences which follow a pre-established format which include at least a critical appraisal of the article.

We do not exclude in an individual basis structured summaries that do not provide a critical appraisal of the article being summarized, but we have selected our search sources following this criterion.

Exclusion criteria

We exclude articles from any of the above categories if they:

Search strategies

Electronic databases

Epistemonikos was developed and is maintained by systematically searching the following databases for systematic reviews, broad synthesis or structured summaries:

Databases regularly updated:
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Other sources not regularly updated:
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We do not restrict our search for language or publication status. The primary studies included in systematic reviews that fulfill our inclusion criteria are also entered into the database independent of the source where the reviewers found them, language or publication status.

It is important to note that Epistemonikos search strategies do not aim to identify studies that are not included in reviews at this moment, so it is not a comprehensive source for these.

Other search sources

Data collection

Selection of articles

One collaborator includes potentially eligible systematic reviews and broad synthesis based on titles and abstract using a set of explicit criteria . A second collaborator confirms the inclusion when extracting data about the article.

Reviews identified in the list of included reviews of an broad synthesis of reviews, and articles coming from databases of structured summaries of systematic reviews (e.g. DARE, SUPPORT summaries) are included automatically, and then checked by the second collaborator when extracting data about the article.

Data extraction

We extract the following data from systematic reviews:

We extract the following data from primary studies:

Studification

Using the information provided in the full text of the review or in the list of primary studies we connect all the references corresponding to the same study into a publication thread