Systematic reviews and meta-analyses deliver a crystallized understanding of the existing research data in any given space. However, grappling with the literature needed for such analyses is becoming increasingly difficult as the number of publications grows. In addition, the quality of much preclinical research and resulting publications is inadequate and questions the relevance and usefulness of data generated.
Systematic review has helped reveal the extent of selection bias, performance bias, detection bias, attrition bias and low statistical power, raising questions about the validity of many preclinical research studies. The authors argue that this may be the greatest virtue of systematic review and meta-analysis, the knowledge generated ultimately helps shed light on the limitations of existing research practice, and in doing so, helps bring reform and rigor to research across the sciences.