1. Toronto, Coleen E. PhD, RN, CNE
  2. Quinn, Brenna L. PhD, RN, NCSN
  3. Remington, Ruth PhD, AGPCNP-BC

Article Content


Dear Dr Chinn,


We wish to thank Drs Tam and Goh for their response to our article and for their work in the area of the science of reviews. The need for replicability, transparency, and currency is important for upholding rigor in nursing reviews. While both of our articles1,2 address the science of reviews, the focus of their article was to examine the time taken between the last search, submission, acceptance, and publication dates of systematic reviews published in nursing journals. In contrast, our article examined the characteristics of nurse-led reviews and was guided by PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) guidelines.3 Because of the differing foci, we discourage direct comparisons between each article. Instead, we think that both articles can help authors, reviewers, and editors start to ameliorate issues central to the rigor of reviews in nursing.


Drs Tam and Goh's suggestion that the use of the PRISMA guidelines to report only systematic reviews and meta-analyses is too narrow of a view and may be detrimental to improving the science of reviews in nursing. The PRISMA guidelines may be used as applicable, with other types of reviews such as integrative reviews and scoping reviews4 to ensure completeness of reporting. At the very least, these guidelines can bring some standardization to reporting the search process among reviews. An increasing number of publishers have accepted PRISMA as a comprehensive reporting guideline since the guidelines were disseminated in 2009.5 Furthermore, some journals have started to encourage or even require authors to complete the PRISMA checklist for relevant reviews.


Both of our articles highlight the need for accuracy of reporting in reviews. Explicit documentation of search strategies used in systematic and integrative reviews has a significant role in the quality assessment and reproducibility of reviews. We concluded that transparent search strategies are not consistently documented in nursing reviews. Our 2 articles differ in focus related to search date information provided in a review. As noted in Tam and Goh's response, our findings revealed that several reviews reported end dates of searches as "to present." Our review was concerned with the impact of this phrase on reproducibility of the search, not of timeliness of search date and publication. We agree that results can certainly become obsolete by the time a paper goes to press. However, thorough reporting of search criteria and methods is crucial for a number of reasons so that other researchers may (1) evaluate the quality of a search (eg, ensure the review was truly systematic and not based on hand-picked articles), and (2) conduct subsequent reviews of the topic at a later date, starting where the prior review left off.


Going forward, journal editors and reviewers should encourage authors to thoroughly report methods used. Thank you again for your work in this area and for your interest in our article.


-Coleen E. Toronto, PhD, RN, CNE


Associate Professor


School of Nursing


Curry College


Milton, Massachusetts


-Brenna L. Quinn, PhD, RN, NCSN


Assistant Professor


Solomont School of Nursing


University of Massachusetts Lowell


Lowell, Massachusetts


-Ruth Remington, PhD, AGPCNP-BC




Department of Nursing


Framingham State University


Framingham, Massachusetts




1. Tam W, Lo K, Khalechelvam P, Seah J, Goh SYS. Is the information of systematic reviews published in nursing journals up-to-date? A cross-sectional study. BMC Med Res Methodol. 2017;17:151. doi:10.1186/s12874-017-0432-3. [Context Link]


2. Toronto CE, Quinn BL, Remington R. Characteristics of reviews published in nursing literature: a methodological review. Adv Nurs Sci. 2017;41:1. doi:10.1097/ANS.0000000000000180. [Context Link]


3. Moher D, Liberati A, Tetzlaff J, Altman DG. Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses: the PRISMA statement. J Clin Epidemiol. 2009;62(10):1006-1012. doi:10.1016/j.jclinepi.2009.06.005. [Context Link]


4. Oermann MH, Hays JC. Writing for Publication in Nursing. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company; 2016. [Context Link]


5. Kearney MH. Hoping for a TREND toward PRISMA: the variety and value of research reporting guidelines. Res Nurs Health. 2014;37(2):85-87. doi:10.1002/nur.21591. [Context Link]