PRISMA: A system for the traceability of literature searches

Literature research has followed in the past confused, incomprehensible paths of ideas, references and keyword searches. The PRISMA system should help to enforce a uniform standard that allows readers to understand the concrete search.

What does PRISMA stand for?

The abbreviation PRISMA stands for “Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyzes”, ie it is used in systematic literature research and in meta-analyzes. It is a documentation that provides information on the scientific database used, the search date, keywords used and the number of results.

How is PRISMA used?

The prism flowchart consists of four phases:

Identification: The eligible studies will be identified using both databases and other sources (bibliographies, etc.). The respective number is noted.

Screening: In this phase, duplicate entries are removed, a first viewing of the studies (or their abstracts) results in inappropriate entries also being deleted from the list.

Eligibility / Included: Determines the final numbers of used studies that are included in the qualitative and quantitative synthesis.

In addition, there is an extensive checklist of the methods to be used – this is intended to ensure increased objectivity; This is done, for example, by listing all the criteria for the selection of literature and applying them consistently, including the possible dangers of a distorting view.

What does the use of PRISMA mean?

First of all, it is an extra effort that can be a serious burden for those who write a longer scientific paper for the first time – especially considering that the scientific formalities and the flood of materials must also be mastered. For lecturers or peer reviewers, PRISMA offers the opportunity to review the procedure and to be able to collect quick samples.