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Syracuse University Libraries

Systematic Reviews

General procedures to help guide researchers through the elements of a systematic review

Import Results

  1. Upload the search results from each database or website you searched. You will most likely be exporting your results from a citation management program as an RIS file.
  2. Add each file separately to the systematic review software you have chosen. You should label each search with the database or website name, you used to find the results.
  3. Some systematic review software may also ask you to upload your search strategy. 
  4. Deduplicate your results - If your systematic review software has an option to deduplicate your search results, it should auto-combine the files from each set of search results into one set of results. Deduplicate your combined set up results. 
  5. IF you're not using a systematic review software, use a citation management software to combine your search results into one set, then deduplicate your results. 
  6. Make sure you note the total number of records you started with at the beginning of the Title/Abstract review. This will be used to fill in your PRISMA Flow Diagram. 


Prepare for two phases of article screening:

  1. Title and abstract review
  2. Full text review

Title and abstract phase helps narrow the number of relevant articles that one needs to review or source in the full text review phase .

  1. Assign at least 2 reviewers to title/abstract review
  2. Determine what percent of the results (how many results) each reviewer will evaluate, and how much duplication for consistency there should be.
  3. Perform a consistency check to make sure that the reviewers are both applying the inclusion/exclusion criteria similarly to the results.
  4. IF you are not using a systematic review software, it is recommended to use a survey tool and spreadsheet to help track of reviewer responses. 
  5. When the review is complete, export the list of results that met your inclusion criteria (as an RIS file), and save it to your citation management program. 

Having a two-stage screening process also minimizes the strain on interlibrary loan staff services and budget. 

Critical Appraisal Tools (Quality Check)