Members of the EPOCH stream 1 team (Anna Lene Seidler, Kylie Hunter and Lisa Askie) recently published a prestigious Research Methods and Reporting article in the British Medical Journal entitled 'A guide to prospective meta-analysis'. The article provides a step-by-step guide on how to conduct a prospective meta-analysis (PMA), a methodology that is rare, novel and often misunderstood. Since it was published in October 2019, the article has received international recognition and been referred to as "inspirational", "spectacular" and "a reference standard:. It has been read over 7000 times, been given an Altmetrics High Attention score, placing it in the top 5% of all research, and led to an influx of researchers contacting the team for advice.
The key feature of a prospective meta-analysis (PMA) is that the studies or cohorts are identified as eligible for inclusion in the meta-analysis, and hypotheses and analysis strategies are specified, before the results of the studies or cohorts related to the PMA research question are known. This can help reduce research waste and bias, and PMA are adaptive, efficient, and collaborative. Ioannidis even goes as far as to argue that 'all primary original research may be designed, executed, and interpreted as prospective meta-analysis'. PMA methods have been applied in EPOCH stream 1, bringing together trials around the world to collaborate and work together to study early childhood obesity prevention interventions.
This article is a must-read for any researcher who is interested in collaboration, and reducing research waste and bias. Click here to access the BMJ guidance paper.