Academic Articles

Systematic literature reviews increasingly cited within randomized control trial publications

That is the finding from a study by Jia et al. (2023) published last week. The authors find that:

Among 4003 eligible RCTs [randomized controlled trials], 1241 studies (31.0%) cited Cochrane reviews, 1698 studies (42.4%) cited prior non-Cochrane reviews, and 2265 studies (56.6%) cited either type of systematic review or both; 1738 RCTs (43.4%) cited no systematic reviews…the percentage of RCTs citing systematic reviews increased from 35.5% in 2007 to 2008 to 71.8% since 2020, with an annual rate of increase of 3.0%. RCTs with 100 participants or more, nonindustry funders, and authors from high-income countries were more likely to cite systematic reviews than those with fewer than 100 participants, industry funders, and authors from low- and middle-income countries.

This is a positive trend and one likely enabled by technology. As Google Scholar and PubMed databases have improved, as article search has become faster, both the cost (in terms of person hours) of conducting systematic literature reviews has likely gone down while the ease with which one is able to identify published systematic literature reviews has increased.