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What has preclinical systematic review ever done for us?


Russell, AAM and Sutherland, BA and Landowski, LM and Macleod, M and Howells, DW, What has preclinical systematic review ever done for us?, BMJ Open Science, 6, (1) Article e100219. ISSN 2398-8703 (2022) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Statement

Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2021. This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution International (CC BY 4.0) license, ( which permits others to copy, redistribute, remix, transform and build upon this work for any purpose, provided the original work is properly cited, a link to the licence is given, and indication of whether changes were made. See: licenses/by/4.0/.

DOI: doi:10.1136/bmjos-2021-100219


Systematic review and meta-analysis are a gift to the modern researcher, delivering a crystallised understanding of the existing research data in any given space. This can include whether candidate drugs are likely to work or not and which are better than others, whether our models of disease have predictive value and how this might be improved and also how these all interact with disease pathophysiology.

Grappling with the literature needed for such analyses is becoming increasingly difficult as the number of publications grows. However, narrowing the focus of a review to reduce workload runs the risk of diminishing the generalisability of conclusions drawn from such increasingly specific analyses.

Moreover, at the same time as we gain greater insight into our topic, we also discover more about the flaws that undermine much scientific research. Systematic review and meta-analysis have also shown that the quality of much preclinical research is inadequate. Systematic review has helped reveal the extent of selection bias, performance bias, detection bias, attrition bias and low statistical power, raising questions about the validity of many preclinical research studies. This is perhaps the greatest virtue of systematic review and meta-analysis, the knowledge generated ultimately helps shed light on the limitations of existing research practice, and in doing so, helps bring reform and rigour to research across the sciences.

In this commentary, we explore the lessons that we have identified through the lens of preclinical systematic review and meta-analysis.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:systematic review, meta-analysis, preclinical, laboratory animals, clinical disease
Research Division:Mathematical Sciences
Research Group:Statistics
Research Field:Biostatistics
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Clinical health
Objective Field:Efficacy of medications
UTAS Author:Russell, AAM (Ind Ash Russell)
UTAS Author:Sutherland, BA (Associate Professor Brad Sutherland)
UTAS Author:Landowski, LM (Dr Lila Landowski)
UTAS Author:Howells, DW (Professor David Howells)
ID Code:149888
Year Published:2022
Deposited By:Medicine
Deposited On:2022-04-22
Last Modified:2022-09-19
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