Developing an effective ‘Overview of included studies and syntheses’ table

The format of Cochrane reviews is changing, and the extensive descriptions of each included study in the ‘Characteristics of included studies’ table are moving to the supplementary information. Instead, Cochrane authors are encouraged to include a more succinct summary of key information in the new ‘Overview of included studies and syntheses’ table.

This table is an opportunity to provide a clear, succinct summary to help readers understand at a glance the key characteristics of the included studies. A well-designed table can also clarify understanding of which studies will be grouped and compared for synthesis in the review, which factors might be key to interpreting the results, and whether there are gaps in the generalisability of studies.

In this web clinic, Miranda Cumpston discussed how to set up these tables, how to decide which factors to highlight, and showcase examples of different approaches to organising the information. 

Below you will find the videos from the December 2023 webinar. Recordings from other Methods Support Unit web clinics are available here

Part 1: Presentation
Part 2: Questions and answers

Presenter bio

Miranda Cumpston - Miranda is an experienced systematic review editor and methodologist, affiliated with the new Cochrane Nutrition and Physical Activity Thematic Group and the People, Health Systems and Public Health Thematic Group. Miranda’s research focuses on developing and clearly reporting synthesis questions within systematic reviews (including the InSynQ checklist), and synthesis methods other than meta-analysis. She currently works on evidence synthesis for guideline development with the Australian Living Evidence Collaboration at Monash University in Melbourne. Previously, Miranda has worked for many years as Cochrane’s Head of Learning and Support, as the Senior Methods Editor with Cochrane Public Health, and as an Associate Editor of the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of the Effects of Interventions.

Part 1: Presentation

Part 2: Questions and answers

Additional materials

Download the slides from the webinar [PDF].

Overview of Synthesis and Included Studies table (OSIS) guidance [PDF]

Prototype review for focused format