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Information for Authors - Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses

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Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses

Reviews that systematically find, select, critique, and synthesize evidence relevant to well-defined questions about diagnosis, prognosis, or therapy. For information on the types of reviews Annals publishes see: The Editors. Reviews: Making Sense of an Often Tangled Skein of Evidence. Ann Intern Med, Jun 2005; 142: 1019 – 1020. [Peer reviewed]


≤ 275 words

Structure: Background, Purpose, Data Sources(must include start and end search dates), Study Selection, Data Extraction, Data Synthesis, Limitations, Conclusions

At the end of the abstract state:

  • Registration: If the study is registered, specify the registry and the study’s unique registration number at the end of the abstract.
  • Funding Source: State the source of funding. If none, state so.


Add “A systematic review” or “A systematic review and meta-analysis” as a subtitle.


≤ 4000 words (excludes abstract and references), note that if accepted for publication the editors may request shortening even if manuscript falls below this limit

Structure: Introduction, Methods, Results, Conclusions

Methods: Subheadings should be: Data Sources and Searches; Study Selection; Data Extraction and Quality Assessment; and Data Synthesis and Analysis. For studies that present numerical data and use statistical inference, include a section under Methods that describes the methods and specific statistical software used for the statistical analysis.

Funding Source: Identify the funding source for the study and its role in the study’s design, conduct, and reporting. Put this information under the last subheading of the Methods section and title the subhead “Role of the Funding source.”


No limit, although if includes more than 100 references, the references may need to be in an electronic only appendix


Aim to include no more than 4 tables or figures (combined) within the body of the manuscript. Additional tables and figures can be included as appendix material. Among the tables and figures should be a flow diagram that depicts the search and selection processes and evidence tables.

Reporting guidelines

Follow relevant reporting recommendations. The EQUATOR includes the following guidelines:

PRISMA reporting guideline for systematic reviews and meta-analysis
MOOSE reporting guidelines for meta-analysis of observational studies
ENTREQ reporting guideline for synthesis of qualitative research

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