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PRISMA-S: a systematic literature review methodology

Getting started

Literature searches underlie the foundations of systematic reviews and related review types. Nonetheless, we do not have strong guidelines to orient researchers on that. This is a checklist that could be used by interdisciplinary authors.


"One crucial component of a systematic review is the literature search. The literature search, or information retrieval process, not only informs the results of a systematic review; it is the underlying process that establishes the data available for analysis"

"the literature search must be designed to be both robust and reproducible to ensure the minimization of bias.

"only one item appeared in all eleven instruments"

"Despite wide usage of the PRISMA Statement, compliance with its items regarding literature search reporting is low"

authors may feel if they completed one of the components of the item that they can check off that item altogether.

"reviews where librarians are authors still include reproducible searches only 64% of the time"

"debate exists as to what constitutes a reproducible search and how best to report the details of the search."

"If researchers are unable to understand or reproduce how information was gathered for a systematic review, they may suspect the authors of having introduced bias into their review by not conducting a thorough or pre-specified literature search"

Why a methodology for systematic literature review?

  1. To provide extensive guidance on reporting the literature search components of a systematic review.

  2. To create a checklist that could be used by authors, editors, and peer reviewers to verify that each

  3. component of a search was completely reported and therefore reproducible.

  4. To develop an interdisciplinary checklist applicable to all method-driven literature searches for evidence synthesis.

  5. To complement the PRISMA Statement and its extensions.

PRISMA-S is a 16-item checklist that covers multiple aspects of the search process for systematic reviews.


Based on:

Melissa L. Rethlefsen; et al. PRISMA-S: an extension to the PRISMA Statement for Reporting Literature Searches in Systematic Reviews. Rethlefsen et al. Systematic Reviews (2021) 10:39

Note. please, see the article for citations, I have excluded them here in the name of making it easier to read herein.


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