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How we promote rigour in systematic reviews and evidence maps at Environment International

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

Article number107543
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>31/12/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>Environment international
Number of pages7
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date6/10/22
<mark>Original language</mark>English


In 2016, Environment International became the first environmental health journal to adopt specialist policies for handling systematic review (SR) submissions. This included the appointment of a dedicated editor of SRs, the use of the CREST_Triage tool for transparent and consistent enforcement of editorial standards for SRs, the acceptance of SR protocols as full manuscripts, and the extension of SR handling policies to systematic evidence maps as a novel evidence synthesis methodology. Our data on triage decisions for SR submissions, gathered via CREST_Triage, indicates several ways in which researchers are challenged by SR methods, including problem formulation, critical appraisal methods, and certainty assessment. We recommend that author teams invest in developing protocols as a means to de-risk SR projects, arguing that the benefits outweigh the potential increase in time it may take to complete the research project. Finally, we present evidence that reliance among environmental health journals on informal peer-review and editorial checks for standards compliance and quality control is insufficient for ensuring the rigour of SR publications. This emphasises the importance of specialist editors using triage instruments for the effective enforcement of standards. Observing that Environment International appears to be one of few journals implementing effective quality control measures for SR publications, we suggest that adoption of our SR policies by other journals may be beneficial to the field at large.