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Systematic Reviews

PRISMA Flow Diagram & Diagram Generator Tool

Your systematic review can be documented using the PRISMA Flow Diagram: 

The PRISMA flow diagram visually summarises the screening process. It initially records the number of articles found and then makes the selection process transparent by reporting on decisions made at various stages of the systematic review. Numbers of articles are recorded at the different stages. When you're excluding articles at the full-text stage, it is important to include the reasons for exclusion.

See the Prisma2020 site for more information including all available downloads for Statement and Flow Diagram.

Review Software & Tools

Screening and Data Extraction Tools

Image of a toolkit

Specialised software can assist when screening results. Records (which may be from an EndNote or Mendeley library) can be imported directly into these programs. 

Covidence
Covidence logo

Covidence is an online systematic review program developed by, and for, systematic reviewers. It can import citations from reference managers like EndNote, facilitate the screening of abstracts and full-text, populate risk of bias tables, assist with data extraction, and export to all common formats.

Covidence is a core component of Cochrane's review production toolkit and has recently also been endorsed by JBI.

Which version of Covidence is best for you?

  • Free trial version: for anyone wanting to try Covidence and find out whether it is suitable for their project. Gives you 1 free review for 2 reviewers, with a limit of 500 records.
  • Covidence are currently offering free access for COVID-19 related research
Systematic Review Tool Box

SR Tool Box logo

The Systematic Review Toolbox is a community-driven, searchable, web-based catalogue of tools that support various tasks within the systematic review and wider evidence synthesis process.

The toolbox aims to help researchers and reviewers find the following:

  • Software tools
  • Quality assessment / critical appraisal checklists
  • Reporting standards
  • Guidelines

Users can perform a simple keyword (i.e. Quick) search to locate tools, or a more detailed (i.e. Advanced) search allowing users to select various criteria to find specific types of tools.

Rayyan

Rayyan logo

Rayyan is a free web application to help systematic review authors create systematic reviews, collaborate on them, maintain them over time and get suggestions for article inclusion.

DistillerSR

DistillerSR logo

DistillerSR is an online application designed specifically for the screening and data extraction phases of a systematic review. Subscription Fee. Additional technical information at: http://www.tectutorials.com/TERDistillerSR.html

OpenMeta[Analyst]

OpenMeta[Analyst] logo

OpenMeta[Analyst] completely open-access, cross-platform software for advanced meta-analysis

SR-Accelerator

SR-Accelerator

Developed by the Institute for Evidence-Based Healthcare at Bond University.

The IEBH SR-Accelerator is a suite of tools to speed up steps in the Systematic Review (SR) process. It is freely available for anyone in the world to use. Simply register via the link below with your name and email address. The SRA is a modular design which means the tools can be incorporated into existing SR workflows and combined with other automation tools.

Screening Results

Screening your results

Once you have completed your searches and used a reference manager (such as EndNote or Mendeley) to export your results, you can then begin screening your results. Screening can be done using EndNote or you can use a screening tool eg Covidence (your references can be exported from EndNote to Covidence).  

You can commence the selection of relevant studies based on the inclusion and exclusion criteria. This process is usually done by 2-3  independent reviewers so as to control selection bias and minimise the risk of excluding any relevant studies. When there is disagreement between reviewers then discussion can occur to decide outcomes. 

Example of a screening workflow 
  1. Remove duplicate records from your results

  2. Examine titles and abstracts to exclude articles that don't meet the inclusion criteria

  3. Find the full text of relevant articles

  4. Keep together any reports referring to the same study

  5. Screen full-text articles against criteria for inclusion

  6. Make any final decisions on study inclusion