Copyright ©The Author(s) 2019. Published by Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.
World J Meta-Anal. Mar 31, 2019; 7(3): 66-71
Published online Mar 31, 2019. doi: 10.13105/wjma.v7.i3.66
Reproducibility and replicability of systematic reviews
Farhad Shokraneh
Farhad Shokraneh, Division of Psychiatry and Applied Psychology, Institute of Mental Health, School of Medicine, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2TU, United Kingdom
Author contributions: Shokraneh F is the single author of this manuscript. He started the idea and wrote first draft of the manuscript. He also revised and prepared the paper for the journal.
Conflict-of-interest statement: Farhad Shokraneh is campaigning for sharing open data and open methods from systematic reviews. He is also involved in development of reporting guidelines and automation software programs, such as Screen-IT, 2dSearch and Study-Based Registers, to enhance the reproducibility.
Open-Access: This article is an open-access article which was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/
Corresponding author: Farhad Shokraneh, BSc, MSc, Research Fellow, Division of Psychiatry and Applied Psychology, School of Medicine, University of Nottingham, B Floor, Institute of Mental Health, Triumph Road, Nottingham NG7 2TU, United Kingdom. farhad.shokraneh@nottingham.ac.uk
Telephone: +44-115-7486747
Received: March 19, 2019
Peer-review started: March 19, 2019
First decision: March 19, 2019
Revised: March 23, 2019
Accepted: March 25, 2019
Article in press: March 26, 2019
Published online: March 31, 2019

Irreproducibility of research causes a major concern in academia. This concern affects all study designs regardless of scientific fields. Without testing the reproducibility and replicability it is almost impossible to repeat the research and to gain the same or similar results. In addition, irreproducibility limits the translation of research findings into practice where the same results are expected. To find the solutions, the Interacademy Partnership for Health gathered academics from established networks of science, medicine and engineering around a table to introduce seven strategies that can enhance the reproducibility: pre-registration, open methods, open data, collaboration, automation, reporting guidelines, and post-publication reviews. The current editorial discusses the generalisability and practicality of these strategies to systematic reviews and claims that systematic reviews have even a greater potential than other research designs to lead the movement toward the reproducibility of research. Moreover, I discuss the potential of reproducibility, on the other hand, to upgrade the systematic review from review to research. Furthermore, there are references to the successful and ongoing practices from collaborative efforts around the world to encourage the systematic reviewers, the journal editors and publishers, the organizations linked to evidence synthesis, and the funders and policy makers to facilitate this movement and to gain the public trust in research.

Keywords: Systematic review, Meta-analysis, Reproducibility of results, Automation, Data science, Data anonymization, Datasets, Guideline adherence, Guideline, Peer-review

Core tip: Reproducibility increases the practicality of the research findings and gains the public trust in research. The ongoing developments in automation of systematic reviews, availability of pre-registration platform, dealing more with secondary data or anonymized primary data, the collaboration culture among the organizations who produce systematic reviews, and finally having an update step that mandates replicability are all reasons that systematic reviews have the potential to lead the movement toward the reproducibility among the other research designs. Meanwhile, reproducibility can help the systematic reviews to be considered as research design rather than literature review.