new developments in systematic review methods 
 for environmental health research 

This month in  overcite//  * (scroll down)

New methodology publications: Comprehensive modeling of publication bias; insight into labour intensity of systematic reviews; improving transparency and rigour in rapid evidence synthesis; investigating the causes of bias in scientific research. 

New systematic reviews: Application of systematic review methods in chemical risk assessment - cardiovascular risk and arsenic exposure; effectiveness of improved solid fuel stoves and clean fuels in reducing PM2.5 and CO.

Open regulatory consultations: New consultations to which readers may wish to respond, including identification of BPA as a Substance of Very High Concern and restrictions on use of lead in PVC.

Workshops, training and webinars: CRED and SciRAP webinars by Karolinska University.

*Readers should note that all items are listed for interest only and not endorsed. Caveat emptor!

Image by Bill Dickinson / flickr

 new methodology publications// 

A parsimonious weight function for modeling publication bias. Not previously offered by any single method, the authors describe a more comprehensive model for incorporating the effects of publication bias in meta-analytical syntheses, with particular relevance to meta-analyses that handle a relatively small number of studies.

Analysis of the time and workers needed to conduct systematic reviews of medical interventions using data from the PROSPERO registry. An insight into the typical labour intensity of the systematic review process. The estimated mean time for completion and publication of review projects was 67.3 weeks, with an average of 5 authors per review. Numbers of potentially relevant studies identified through literature searches varied, but a mean yield rate of included studies was calculated at 2.94%.

Rapid evidence assessment: increasing the transparency of an emerging methodology. A lack of transparency and limited critical appraisal are identified as key flaws in the REA process. The authors discuss general principles for conducting REA which aim to strike a balance between adhering to systematic review methodology and allowing for rapid delivery of information.

Meta-assessment of bias in science. An investigation of bias in scientific research as an exploration of the discipline’s reproducibility crisis. Interestingly, the authors found little evidence of bias arising as a result of scientific productivity, or ‘pressure to publish’ – an issue explored further in the Retraction Watch article ‘What leads to bias in the scientific literature? New study tries to answer’. 

Image by beanworks / morguefile

 new systematic reviews// 

Cardiovascular risk from water arsenic exposure in Vietnam: Application of systematic review and meta-regression analysis in chemical health risk assessment. Systematic reviews and meta-analyses cannot provide the endpoint answers for chemical risk assessment. This study aims to apply systematic review and meta-regression analysis to address this limitation using a case study in cardiovascular risk from arsenic exposure in Vietnam.

Real-life effectiveness of 'improved' stoves and clean fuels in reducing PM2.5 and CO: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Although effective at reducing indoor air pollution, neither 'improved' solid fuel stoves nor clean fuels (probably due to neighbourhood contamination) achieve PM2.5 concentrations close to 24-hour air quality guidance values set by the WHO. This review evaluates the evidence in terms of household energy policy, recommending a prioritisation of community-wide use of clean fuels. 

Image by beanworks / morguefile

 selected regulatory consultations// 

Readers may be interested in responding to the following open consultations:
Image by beanworks / morguefile

 workshops, training and webinars// 

Applying the CRED criteria for evaluating reliability and relevance of ecotoxicity studies for regulatory assessment. April 24, 2017, 2 – 3 pm CET. Register to participate (deadline April 19). More information from Anna Beronius: 

Using the SciRAP tool to evaluate reliability and relevance of in vivo toxicity studies for regulatory assessment. April 25, 2017, 2 – 3 pm CET. Register to participate (deadline April 19). More information from Anna Beronius: 

Happy to help.

If you have any questions or suggestions for content, please let us know.
overcite is written by Taylor Harrison, Paul Whaley and Crispin Halsall at Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, UK. The views expressed are those of the authors alone.
Production of this newsletter is supported by The REACH Centre and the Centre for Global Eco-Innovation, which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Agency.
Paul Whaley is Associate Editor for Systematic Reviews at Environment International (IF5.929). Submit your systematic reviews and methods manuscripts here.
Copyright © 2017 Lancaster Environment Centre, All rights reserved.

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