This is an archived version of the Handbook. For the current version, please go to or search for this chapter here.  Updating reviews when no new studies are found

When no new studies meeting the selection criteria are found, the review update will simply require that this finding be recorded in the relevant sections of the review. Revision of the text of the review may be required in the following sections:

  1. Search methods (to ensure the appropriate ‘Date of search’ is recorded);

  2. Description of studies in the Results section (to revise numbers of identified, screened and excluded studies if relevant);

  3. Results (to ensure any dates are appropriate);

  4. 'Authors' conclusions' (particularly if there is an ongoing need for further research);

  5. Abstract and 'Plain language summary'.


In addition to revision of the text of the review, authors will need to ensure that the relevant date fields are correct and reflect the updated status of the review (see Section 3.3), and the 'What’s new' table is completed (see Section 3.5).


In order to alert readers of the review to the fact that they are reading an updated version, a sentence can be added to the Background section of the Abstract stating that this is an update of a Cochrane review (with the earlier version cited) and including the year the review was originally published and the dates of any previous updates. In the Background section of the review itself, this sentence can be expanded to include discussion of the findings of the original review. 


Finally, it is important to check that nothing else in the review is out of date (e.g. references to other Cochrane reviews which may have been updated, information about prevalence or incidence of the condition of interest, statements like ‘recently, in 1998, it was shown that …’, ‘next year, in 2002, there will be …’). If there are changes or additions to the Acknowledgements and 'Declarations of interest' sections of the review these should be revised.