Ensuring Prevention Science Research is Synthesis-Ready for Immediate and Lasting Scientific Impact

Emily A. Hennessy, Rebecca L. Acabchuk, Pieter A. Arnold, Adam G. Dunn, Yong Zhi Foo, Blair T. Johnson, Sonya R. Geange, Neal R. Haddaway, Shinichi Nakagawa, Witness Mapanga, Kerrie Mengersen, Matthew J. Page, Alfredo Sánchez-Tójar, Vivian Welch, Luke A. McGuinness

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


When seeking to inform and improve prevention efforts and policy, it is important to be able to robustly synthesize all available evidence. But evidence sources are often large and heterogeneous, so understanding what works, for whom, and in what contexts can only be achieved through a systematic and comprehensive synthesis of evidence. Many barriers impede comprehensive evidence synthesis, which leads to uncertainty about the generalizability of intervention effectiveness, including inaccurate titles/abstracts/keywords terminology (hampering literature search efforts), ambiguous reporting of study methods (resulting in inaccurate assessments of study rigor), and poorly reported participant characteristics, outcomes, and key variables (obstructing the calculation of an overall effect or the examination of effect modifiers). To address these issues and improve the reach of primary studies through their inclusion in evidence syntheses, we provide a set of practical guidelines to help prevention scientists prepare synthesis-ready research. We use a recent mindfulness trial as an empirical example to ground the discussion and demonstrate ways to ensure the following: (1) primary studies are discoverable; (2) the types of data needed for synthesis are present; and (3) these data are readily synthesizable. We highlight several tools and practices that can aid authors in these efforts, such as using a data-driven approach for crafting titles, abstracts, and keywords or by creating a repository for each project to host all study-related data files. We also provide step-by-step guidance and software suggestions for standardizing data design and public archiving to facilitate synthesis-ready research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)809-820
Number of pages12
JournalPrevention Science
Issue number5
Early online date21 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022
Externally publishedYes


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