Summary of findings tables
In addition to providing a summary of the available data, summary of findings tables provide key information about your interpretation of the quality of the evidence and the magnitude of effect of the treatments. Information presented in tables is easier for people to understand than text. Cochrane Airways policy is to have summary of findings tables in all new reviews and updates.
How and when should I make a summary of findings table?
- When you have done your meta-analysis or narrative review of the included studies in your Cochrane Review and considered the risk of bias. This is because doing the SOF table before you start writing up the discussion and abstract will help you think about the overall quality of the body of evidence which will help you write the rest of the review
- You can read about summary of findings table in the Cochrane Handbook, chapter 11 and chapter 12
- A series of short videos are available to help (log in with your Archie username and password). These videos explain what a summary of findings table is and how to construct one.
- Have a look at this feedback on SOF tables and incorporating GRADE into reviews from the Cochrane Editorial Unit
- You can generate Summary of findings tables using the free GRADEpro GDT online tool. The tool allows you to import data from the RevMan file. It is also possible to make a summary of findings table using the wizard in RevMan – but then you have to add all the data yourself.
- Need inspiration? Try looking at a narrative SOF table, one with subgroups (subgroups are to be avoided unless absolutely necessary), one for COPD, one for asthma, one for cough.
When you have completed your summary of findings table
Show the rest of your team and discuss the downgrading decisions and results
Contact us and we will identify someone who can check your table and suggest any changes – or find another editor to help you.
You can go ahead and write up your discussion, abstract and plain language summary including your overall judgements of the quality of the evidence
Check that all your reasons for downgrading are clear and understandable – you can even add in a footnote to explain when you decided not to downgrade if this will help the reader
Check the data matches between the SOF table, results, PLS and abstract before submitting for editorial approval!