Method Subheading Examples

How do you fill in the text for these method subheadings? Here are some explanations as well as abbreviated examples from the systematic review about atherosclerotic renal artery stenosis (ARAS):

Study Objective

The Study Objective is a brief sentence that expresses the aim of the study or, in other words, the specific question that the researchers wanted to address during the study. It could be expressed as a statement or as a question; in which case, it’s called the “Research Question.”

Here’s the ARAS Study Objective. Notice that it’s expressed as a statement:

Reevaluate the comparative benefits and harms of strategies for management of patients with ARAS and to identify factors that may predict which patients are most likely to benefit from each intervention.

Data Sources

During a systematic review, researchers want to address their Study Objective using the full range of available evidence. They find this information by searching databases, websites, and other locations; all of these are called “Data Sources.”

Here’s how the ARAS study authors described their data sources:

We searched MEDLINE and EMBASE from January 2007 through 16 March 2016 and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews through the fourth quarter of 2015…

We supplemented the search with studies in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration database,, and the World Health Organization International Clinical Trials Registry Platform; recent systematic reviews; and proceedings of national renal, vascular surgery, and urology conferences from 2012 through 2014. We solicited additional citations from our expert panel and from manufacturers.

Notice that this example includes both published and unpublished studies. A thorough systematic review should always search for potentially useful unpublished findings such as dissertations, conference proceedings and technical reports.