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Systematic Reviews

Resources for planning and conducting a Systematic Review of the literature.

Bibliographic Software

A systematic review requires collaboration of multiple authors who review citations exported from each database into a bibliographic management tool such as RefWorks or EndNote.  Organization of citations in RefWorks can follow the PRISMA Flow Diagram which depicts a natural flow of citations, starting from raw numbers of retrieved results to the final set of articles included in the systematic review.

Organizing Citations in RefWorks for the Systematic Review

The RefWorks folders in this chart organize citations according to the PRISMA Flow Diagram. In this example, the reviewer searched three databases: CINAHL, PubMed and The Cochrane Library (labeled "1...'), but this can be customized to include alternative databases depending on the research question. The "1 Other" folder would contain citations from searching the grey literature, trial registers, search engines or additional sources. The citations from these four folders are then added to the "1 Merged" folder where deduplication is completed. Each citation from "1 Merged" is then screened by title and abstract for inclusion or exclusion and added to the appropriate "2 Screened" folder. Full-text articles for each of the "2 Screened include" citations is assessed for eligibility and assigned to the appropriate "3 Eligible" folder. The # of studies included in syntheses consists of the final set of citations in the systematic review.


Mapping those 9 RefWorks folders to a PRISMA Flow Diagram:




Data Extraction and Management Tools