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Systematic Review Guide

Software to Support Systematic Reviews

Plan Ahead

Decide as a team what tools to use to stay organized. If you are working with team members remotely, consider using tools that allow you to collaborate on single documents instead of emailing back and forth.

It's important to decide how you will manage your search results before you start your project. Choose a system that will allow you to gather your results, remove duplicates, and cite them in your papers. Make sure the whole team agrees on which software to use and that everyone has access to it.

Tools for Managing References

You will need to use bibliographic software that allows you to save large numbers of search results from various databases, remove duplicate results, annotate, and cite the papers. Unity Health Toronto has a site licence to EndNote. Other teams have used such tools as Mendeley or Papers. We no longer recommend Reference Manager or RefWorks.  

Systematic Review Software

Tools for Managing Reviews, Screening, and Extracting Data

You will need to keep track of whether an article meets your inclusion criteria and why. An Excel spreadsheet organized by article and inclusion and exclusion criteria can work for this but the development of sophisticated systematic review software has made the process much more streamlined.

Systematic review software includes RevManCovidenceEPPI ReviewerDistillerSR, or Rayyan. You may need a subscription to this software.

Try searching the Systematic Review Toolbox, “a community-driven, searchable, web-based catalogue of tools that support the systematic review process across multiple domains” for other software tools.

Select a Software

"Breakdown of the 22 software packages designed to support evidence syntheses, with the functionality to support different stages of the systematic review process". Source: Kohl, C. et al. Online tools supporting the conduct and reporting of systematic reviews and systematic maps: a case study on CADIMA and review of existing tools. Environmental Evidence 7, 8 (2018).



Since you are searching multiple databases you will have duplicate records in your results. You will want to remove the duplicates as far as possible before screening so that you won’t have to screen the same records twice. Reference management and systematic review software often have semiautomatic de-duplication options.

Make sure you keep a record of the total number of results and the number of results after de-duplication to enter into your PRISMA flow diagram.

Here are steps that you can follow to remove duplicates from your merged EndNote libraries: Deduplication in EndNote McGill University Libraries.

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