Write a Systematic Review for the Journal of Plastic Surgery

Divino Plastic Surgery Blog by Dr. Carlos Chacon

January 31, 2023

Write a Systematic Review for the Journal of Plastic Surgery

Systematic reviews (SRs) are a critical tool for evidence-based plastic surgery. They are designed and performed a priori to reduce bias and ensure transparent, reproducible research.

This study aims to identify the quality of synthetic reviews published in the Annals of Surgery over a 10-year eligibility period. This was determine by examining the proportion of studies that yielded conclusive statements.

Defining the research question

When writing a research paper, it is important to define the research question. This gives the paper direction and provides a focus to your work.

The best research questions often start with a problem you wish to solve. You can identify a research problem by reviewing pertinent literature or by assessing a specific issue in your area of interest.

A good research question seeks impartial responses that can contribute to a body of knowledge. A good question will also provide the basis for future research.

When conducting a systematic review, researchers should select a research question relevant to the overall study context that has not yet been answered. They should also ensure that their chosen research problem is not an existing topic or too broad for a systematic investigation to address.

Identifying relevant studies

The Journal of Plastic Surgery publishes high-quality research and is a key platform for surgeons to share their ideas with a global audience. It also provides a forum for scientific discussion and correspondence.

The journal is a leading source of news and reviews on significant developments in all aspects of plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgery. Articles cover original clinical or laboratory research, operative procedures, comprehensive reviews, cosmetic surgery, ideas and innovations, letters, case reports, perspectives, book reviews and continuing medical education.

The Journal of Plastic Surgery has been an evidence-based journal since 2010, intending to promote evidence-based practice within the field. EBM is based on a hierarchical appraisal system, Levels of Evidence (LOE), that enables clinicians to rapidly appraise research before translating it into clinical practice. LOE grades research based on inherent limitations of study methodology and can be use to assess the quality of evidence published.

Conducting the review

Systematic reviews are complex pieces of research that aim to identify, select and synthesise all of the published evidence on a particular question or topic. They adhere to a strict scientific design based on pre-specified and reproducible methods.

A review may clarify what is known from research, provide new perspectives, build theory, test theory, identify gaps in knowledge or inform research agendas. They can also be use to evaluate and compare different approaches, interventions or models of practice.

To conduct a review, you need access to the right databases and journals for your research questions. It would help if you also had a sound plan for searching, securing good-quality research and interpreting the study results.

Systematic reviews have several advantages over other types of literature reviews. These include:

Developing a conclusion

A systematic review evaluates the quality of evidence, identifies gaps in knowledge, and recommends new research. It consists of several steps, such as a search for relevant studies, identifying study eligibility criteria and assessing the risk of bias.

In addition, a systematic review may include a meta-analysis which uses quantitative statistical methodology to pool the results of multiple credible studies that meet the study’s eligibility criteria. This methodology allows for a more precise assessment of therapeutic effectiveness.

During this 10-year eligibility period, 186 systematic reviews (with or without meta-analysis) were publish in the Annals of Surgery. Of these, 75.3% provided conclusive statements in their conclusions (140/186).

In this systematic review, study characteristics (year of publication, country of publication, region of publication, LOE, type of surgery, and two-year IF) did not correlate with the presence of conclusive statements. However, meta-analyses were more likely to provide conclusive statements than systematic reviews (P = 0.009, +).