Synthesis and integration are critical elements of knowledge synthesis. Using/reusing the work we have already done is a sign of maturation as a discipline, and a very positive step forward to accelerate inquiry by identifying research gaps, opportunities, and effectively summarizing the strength of evidence to date. We are not only poised for potentially profound novel tests of ideas in ecology, evolution, and environmental science, but we are collaborating in news ways, sharing datasets more freely, and more transparently sharing workflows and insights. Oikos supports this movement in all the ways that we can for now and hopefully even more dramatically as we evolve too. Hence, we are launching a new formal synthesis section for publications.
Meta-analyses and systematic reviews are but two forms of synthesis. Nonetheless, these reviews are currently the most easily aligned with the traditional peer-reviewed ‘publication’ as paper model. This is admittedly a small step, but we need these contributions to inform evidence-based decisions not just for additional research but for management and application. We now have a section devoted to reviews that include quantitative summaries of evidence from within studies or aggregated datasets, i.e. include effect size estimates and appropriate statistics, and also includes systematic reviews that summarize the state of the art of research for a sub-discipline or topic at the scale of studies (i.e. attributes associated with the research, similar to the meta-data of the datasets but without the data from each study listed). We recognize there are many other forms of synthesis that we need to share, and consequently, we will work hard to ensure that we consider these contributions as well (i.e. how to effectively synthesize evidence in all forms, aggregate, and use datasets for novel synthesis). In handling these papers, similar to all reviews really, we will strive for rapid turnaround, and if sent out for review, we will also work hard to ensure that referees expert in synthesis can provide you with input.
The editorial associated with this section is now OA and online.
Let’s work together to find that big picture.