Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis


Systematic reviews aim to systematically review and summarize existing literature for a specific topic in a transparent way. A systematic review may or may not include a meta-analysis.

Authors are encouraged to follow the relevant reporting guidelines available at The EQUATOR network provides a database of reporting guidelines, aiming to improve the reliability of published health research literature by promoting transparent and accurate reporting. Preferably a protocol should be published in advance, and registered with PROSPERO.

Authors are encouraged to refer to the following checklists:
PRISMA reporting guidelines for systematic reviews of trials
PRISMA-DTA reporting guidelines for diagnostic test accuracy studies

Also, guidance for the performance of risk of bias assessment has been published:
RoB 2: A revised Cochrane risk-of-bias tool for randomized trials
ROBINS: Risk of bias tool for observational studies in interventions
COSMOS-E: guidance for systematic reviews in studies on etiology


Systematic reviews and meta-analysis should be formatted with the following sections:

A separate Title page with:

  • Title (maximum 85 characters)
  • All authors names (as they should appear in PubMed)
  • Author affiliations
  • Corresponding author’s postal and email address
  • A short title (maximum 46 characters, including spaces)
  • A minimum of four keywords describing the manuscript 
  • Word count of the full article (maximum length 3500 words, excluding references, figure legends, abstract, significance statement and acknowledgments).



The abstract should be no more than 250 words in length. Please divide up your abstract using the headings Objective (giving the context of the study), Design, Methods, Results and Conclusions. Avoid abbreviations and references in this section.


Significance Statement

Please provide a significance statement of no more than 120 words, which conveys the main message of the paper, its novelty and its importance to the understanding and management of endocrine disease. The statement should describe your work at a level that would enable a broad audience to understand the significance of the article’s findings.



The introduction should set the study in context by briefly reviewing relevant knowledge of the subject; follow this with a concise statement of the objectives of the study.


Materials and methods

Provide the PROSPERO Registration number.
Provide sufficient and transparent information for the following elements:

  • Eligibility criteria for inclusion
  • Databases searched
  • Data extraction process
  • Risk of bias assessment
  • Statistical analysis



  • A flow-chart of study’s inclusion
  • Short description of included studies
  • Risk of bias assessment
  • Meta-analyses (if performed)
  • Additional statistical analyses (test for heterogeneity, small sample bias, sensitivity analyses, etc)



Should not simply re-state results, but should put them in the broader context and highlight the importance and novelty of the work in its concluding section.


Declaration of interest, Funding and Acknowledgments, Data sharing/availability statement



All references cited in the text must be included in the reference list and vice versa. However, if a reference consists of only a web address do not include it in the reference list but cite it in the text, giving the date the page was accessed.

References should be provided in numerical order as cited in the text (Vancouver style).



Tables should be concise. Tables too large for print publication should be submitted as supplementary data.

  • Number tables in the order they are cited in the text
  • Include a title – a single sentence at the head of the table that includes the name of the organism studied
  • Use footnotes to provide any additional explanatory material, cross-referenced to the column entries
  • Give a short heading for each column
  • Restrict the use of abbreviations in tables and explain any abbreviation you use in the table legend
  • Do not use internal horizontal or vertical lines, colour or shading
  • Do not highlight p values in bold to indicate that they are significant
  • Please provide exact p value numbers with up to two decimals only (unless p<0.001) (exception: genetic studies).




Supplemental Data

Supplemental methods, results, tables and figures should be submitted as a single file, wherever possible, and labelled 'Supplemental File for Review' upon submission.

Supplementary data too large for print publication or exceeding the bounds of the manuscript (e.g. videos) may be submitted separately for online publication.

Supplementary information will be reviewed as part of the manuscript, evaluated for its importance and relevance and, if accepted, will be referenced in the text of the article, directing readers to the website. All supplemental items should be cited in the text of the main manuscript.