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Systematic Review Overview: 5. Perform Data Extraction/Abstraction

Introduction to the 8 elements that encompass a systematic review
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Step 5. Perform Data Extraction/Abstraction

The process of data extraction for a systematic review involves recording specific information from each of the studies. This information is entered into a paper or electronic form that has been carefully constructed.

The construction of the data extraction form can be done in one of many ways. However, it should be designed to contain information that is directly related to the research question being posed.

Once the data extraction form has been constructed, it’s recommended that it be pilot tested by several reviewers using a sample group of research studies.1,2 This will aid in ensuring the right amount of data is being collected. Too much information can be time consuming to record, and too little can exclude important information requiring the reviewers to re-extract the data.

Although forms can be similar across different reviews, they should be adapted and modified to fit your specific review. In general, the data extraction forms should gather some basic information concerning who is doing the data extraction, bibliographic information of the study being reviewed, and the source of the information.

The following example outlines what could be included in a data extraction form for a review of effectiveness studies adapted from the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination2:

General Information

  • Date of extraction
  • Bibliographic information of the study
  • Name of reviewer
  • Notes

Specific Information

  • Reverification of study eligibility
  • Population characteristics and setting
  • Methodological quality of the study
  • Interventions
  • Outcomes
  • Notes

Coding format and instructions for coders