©2017 ROSES

How can ROSES save you resources?

Find out below how ROSES can save you and your journal considerable resources during peer-review and publication of reviews.

What is ROSES?

ROSES is a set of reporting standards for literature reviews claiming to be systematic (i.e. more reliable than traditional literature reviews). It consists of a checklist and short summary form describing the methods used in a review. Review authors use ROSES forms to demonstrate that they have described their review methods in sufficient detail. ROSES forms can be submitted as an additional file when review documents are submitted for publication, and these forms can facilitate editorial decisions about the review. The forms can also help peer-reviewers to assess the reliability of the review methods used.

Why is ROSES needed?

Systematic reviews and systematic maps aim to be comprehensive, transparent and objective to provide reliable evidence for decision-making. They do this by employing established, tried-and-tested methodological frameworks for searching for evidence, screening evidence, critically appraising study validity, and synthesising studies (for example using meta-analysis).

Systematic reviews are routinely used to summarise evidence in the field of healthcare and medicine, and they are becoming increasingly common in environmental subjects. At the same time, many reviews claim to be systematic but employ methods that are susceptible to bias, resulting in unreliable findings. Many others lack transparency, meaning that it is impossible to know whether to trust their findings. In order to know how reliable or well-conducted a review is, editors, peer-reviewers and readers must themselves assess the methods used in a review, which can be complex and challenging for those who aren’t very familiar with systematic reviews and maps.

Although some review reporting standards, like PRISMA, already exist, they cannot be easily applied to environmental topics, do not work for qualitative research methods, and they are limited in the level of detail they call for.

How does ROSES work?

ROSES forms help to check that reviews claiming to be systematic truly are systematic, and that reviews report their methods in enough detail to be able to assess how reliable they are.

Review authors use ROSES forms to demonstrate that they have described their review methods in sufficient detail. ROSES forms can be submitted as an additional file when review documents are submitted for publication, and these forms can facilitate editorial decisions about the review. The forms can also help peer-reviewers to assess the reliability of the review methods used.

How will ROSES affect my journal?

Integrating ROSES into the workflow of a journal would require all authors of systematic reviews to complete a ROSES form upon submission of their manuscript.


The process would be fairly quick for review authors to do, particularly if they use ROSES whilst planning and conducting their review. After submission, editors and peer-reviewers can use the completed ROSES form and our handy help file to make their job easier. Hence, ROSES can save resources and increase reliability of your journal’s reviews. By integrating ROSES forms into the submission system of your journal you can also ensure that submitted reviews are also reporting their methods to a high standard before being seen by an editor, further saving resources. To learn more about digital integration of ROSES, please contact us.

How much will it cost?

ROSES forms are open access and free to use – they will remain free forever.

How was ROSES developed?

ROSES was developed by reviewing existing reporting standards (such as PRISMA) and improving upon them to deal with environmental research evidence. ROSES is therefore tailored to systematic reviews and systematic maps (evidence syntheses) for environmental topics. The ROSES forms were improved upon following detailed assessment by a group of key methodology experts and peer-reviewers for the academic journal Environmental Evidence, where ROSES methodology has been recently published.

Who created ROSES and why?

ROSES was created in a collaboration between systematic review and map experts and journal editors working at three key organisations: Stockholm Environment Institute, the Collaboration for Environmental Evidence, and the journal Environment International. The authors have noticed an increasing number of low reliability reviews claiming to be systematic reviews in recent years, and were concerned that decision-makers and other readers could be misled by inappropriate use of the terms ‘systematic review’ and ‘systematic map’. The authors hope that ROSES will lead to an improvement in the standards of evidence syntheses, particularly in how the methods used in a review are reported, increasing transparency and accountability.