|Year : 2021 | Volume
| Issue : 5 | Page : 367-368
What raises your research profile? Conducting scientific studies or writing systematic reviews and meta-analysis: Decide yourself!
Editor, Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology, Professor and Head, Department of Periodontics, Dental College, Regional Institute of Medical Sciences, Lamphelpat, Imphal - 795 004, Manipur, India
|Date of Web Publication||01-Sep-2021|
Editor, Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology, Professor and Head, Department of Periodontics, Dental College, Regional Institute of Medical Sciences, Lamphelpat, Imphal - 795 004, Manipur
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Kumar A. What raises your research profile? Conducting scientific studies or writing systematic reviews and meta-analysis: Decide yourself!. J Indian Soc Periodontol 2021;25:367-8
|How to cite this URL:|
Kumar A. What raises your research profile? Conducting scientific studies or writing systematic reviews and meta-analysis: Decide yourself!. J Indian Soc Periodontol [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 Aug 19];25:367-8. Available from: https://www.jisponline.com/text.asp?2021/25/5/367/325000
Systematic reviews (SR) and meta-analysis (MA) remain the highest level of evidence in evidence based practice. Systematic reviews are qualitative in nature and summarize results of primary studies but do not evaluate statistically. When statistical methods are applied to results of primary studies to derive a conclusion, systematic reviews become quantitative and are called meta-analysis.
By description, systematic reviews and meta-analyses are retrospective research and the quality of results of systematic reviews and meta-analyses is completely dependent on the results of original studies. Most of the systematic reviews we come across, are based on Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs). Systematic reviews can be based on the results of high-quality trials of other study designs like observational (case–control or cohort) to identify risk factors and adverse effects. Necessary evidence may only be generated if rigorous research methods are applied to perform a systematic review. A good systematic review may aid in answering specific, clinical question, but not all.
Lately, there has be huge increase in number of systematic reviews and meta-analysis being written and published. The obvious reason for this rising trend is the “easy way out” being taken by authors of these reviews with the aim of getting publication or increasing one's publication number. Authors of these systematic reviews and meta-analyses are just evaluating the retrospective data generated from studies of multiple other researchers and create a publication of their own. It definitely does not magnify your standing and increase your credibility as serious scientific researcher.
A lot of systematic reviews and meta-analyses being conducted also gives an impression of inability or dis-interest of the authors to conduct independent research studies because of various reasons (funding, lack of opportunity, time constraints, limited clinical experience, etc.) and ultimately authors choosing this easy route for publication.
There needs to be a redirection of efforts towards conducting clinical trials rather than writing reviews. The aim should be to conduct a good quality research to generate data, so that your study is found good enough to be included in these systematic reviews and meta-analyses, if it fits the inclusion criteria.
I feel, the standing of an author/authors who have studies of various types (observational/RCTs) to their credit, have generated data through their studies, is far higher than author/authors who tend to use data generated by studies of other authors to create these systematic reviews and meta-analyses.
Systematic reviews and meta-analyses have their share of problems like bias, heterogeneity, quality assessment, sample size issues leading to misleading results and inability to answer all clinically relevant questions. The limited experience of clinical research of an author would also have its own adverse effect on the systematic reviews written by them.
Also, many published articles are the clinical or experimental studies conducted in dental schools under supervision and performed during the training periods (postgraduation) within a stipulated time. Often the results of such studies may be compromised because of time constraints and limited experience of the operator/clinician. Inclusion of such articles in SR may not give accurate analysis. Also, the evidence generated from studies conducted in academic/institutional settings may not be relevant or applicable in real-time clinical settings.
The most fascinating aspect being observed is, that, the results of most of systematic reviews and meta-analyses are inconclusive. The inconclusive nature of results and their ultimate conclusion that more studies need to be conducted for a conclusive evidence, puts the readers in a huge dilemma about the results and clinical question being answered for practical application. It is time, authors need to think rationally before writing these reviews to finally conclude that evidence is inconclusive. Let us not waste our energy and efforts in doing something does no good to our scientific stature as a “researcher.”
Let us focus on being “Independent” by conducting good quality original studies, generate our own data. Let our studies contribute to systematic reviews and meta-analyses in generating corroborated vital evidence to an important clinical question rather than be “Dependent” on data generated by others to write these reviews.
“The choice is yours: Dependent or Independent.”