Systematic Review Replication


Replication checklist

When to replicate systematic reviews of interventions: consensus checklist. (Tugwell P, Welch VA, Karunananthan S, Maxwell LJ, Akl EA, Avey MT, Bhutta ZA, et al. BMJ. 2020;370:m2864).

Systematic review protocol

Karunananthan S, Maxwell LJ, Welch V, Petkovic J, Pardo Pardo J, Rader T, Avey MT, et al. When and how to replicate systematic reviews. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2020, Issue 2. Art No. MR000052. DOI: 10.1002.14651858.MR000052


Replication is a corner stone of the scientific method yet replication of systematic reviews is too often overlooked, done unnecessarily or done poorly, as identified by Francis Collins, the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Excessive replication - doing the same study repeatedly - is unethical and a cause of ‘research wastage’. There is a lack of guidance for when or why to replicate systematic reviews.

Overarching Aim: The proposed research will use an evidence-driven, transparent process and implement consensus approaches to develop value-added guidance on: a) when to replicate and b) when not to replicate systematic reviews.

Objectives: We propose three sequential objectives:

1. To assess the extent of replication of systematic review topics and explore reasons for replication as well as issues such as discordance, agreement and bias.

2. To develop consensus-based recommendations on when to replicate systematic reviews of effectiveness (and when not), taking into account the needs and preferences of the various stakeholder groups.

3. To identify strategies for disseminating and implementing these recommendations to key stakeholder groups (e.g. patients, clinicians, journal editors, systematic review authors, systematic review users, systematic review organizations (such as Cochrane, Campbell, Joanna Briggs Institute), guideline developers, research funding agencies, KT researchers).

To achieve these objectives we will: assess evidence about when to replicate systematic reviews, document characteristics of overlapping systematic reviews, survey and interview authors of replicated systematic reviews, consult with global experts on replicability guidelines, prioritize and seek consensus on items for systematic review replication guidance, and develop collaborative knowledge translation plan including practical tools for specific knowledge users.

Proposed Papers and Leads


Lead author


Target journal

Target deadline

Current status

Guideline paper

Peter, Sathya, Vivian



Draft in circulation

June 27

Framework and definitions for SR replication


Jeff Valentine, Mark Petticrew, Brigitte Vachon, Alison Riddle, Elie Akl, Brigitte Vachon, Lara Maxwell, Laura Weeks, Kednapa Thavorn, Zulfi Bhutta, Karla Soares, Bev Shea, Betsy Kristjansson, Sathya, Vivian, Peter T

Research Synthesis Methods, 

J Clin Epi

Fall, 2019

Framework under development 

SR replication for internal validity 


Jeff, Jeremy, Zulfi, Terri, Bev, Sathya, Larissa, Peter

Discordance checklist


Elie, Janet, Lara, Howard, Gabriel, Betsy, Terri, Jeff, Peter T, Julian, Tamara, Larissa, Sathya, Vivian, Peter T

Stakeholder interviews & Survey


Peter T, Tamara, Vivian, Lara

Cochrane methods SR


Jennifer, Peter T, Zulfi, Vivian, Lara, Jordi

Cochrane & Campbell

December, 2019 

Protocol reviewed; Responding to reviewer comments 

Discussions underway for a possible Lancet commentary

Peter, Vivian & Jocalyn Clark

Janet, George, David, Sathya

To be discussed after main paper is submitted

Evaluation plan

Peter, Sathya, Vivian

David, Betsy, Howard, Kednapa, Brigitte, Sathya, Vivian, Peter T

Expand VOI


Howard, Peter T, Vivian, Lara, Mark P, George, Janet, Peter W, Bev, Sathya, Vivian, Peter T

Series of other papers: editorials and think pieces?