Research Synthesis Methods

Automated drawing of network plots in network meta‐analysis

Journal Article

In systematic reviews based on network meta‐analysis, the network structure should be visualized. Network plots often have been drawn by hand using generic graphical software. A typical way of drawing networks, also implemented in statistical software for network meta‐analysis, is a circular representation, often with many crossing lines. We use methods from graph theory in order to generate network plots in an automated way. We give a number of requirements for graph drawing and present an algorithm that fits prespecified ideal distances between the nodes representing the treatments. The method was implemented in the function netgraph of the R package netmeta and applied to a number of networks from the literature. We show that graph representations with a small number of crossing lines are often preferable to circular representations. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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