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Systematic Reviews

A guide for researchers beginning a medical systematic review or meta-analysis.

Team Members Involved

All team members should be involved, as this step helps the team communicate and transfer information efficiently, as well as set expectations.

Staying Organized

Plan Ahead for Collaboration

Decide as a team what tools to use to stay organized. Consider using network or cloud tools that will offer the opportunity to easily collaborate on single documents as opposed to emailing back and forth.

Reproducibility

The goal is to keep records in the most systematic way possible so that all of your work can be reproduced. For example, the librarian or information specialist should keep detailed records of the exact search you used for each database and the date the search was executed, and those doing hand searching of journals and conference abstracts should record their titles and years searched.

Tips…

  •  establish personal accounts in databases (e.g. My NCBI account in PubMed) to save searches and have new results e-mailed to you
  •  use a citation management program (like EndNote) so you can easily and quickly manipulate your results, organize into groups, and make notes OR create a spreadsheet organized by article and sub-organized by preliminary inclusion and exclusion criteria to track why you included and excluded articles for more in-depth review.  Some teams may prefer to use Systematic Review-specific software for the screening process, though these can be expensive or limited.
  •  detailed notes of the in-depth reviews used for your selected studies

Guidelines to Consult while Planning