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Systematic Reviews


A variety of software and tools are available to make the stages of a systematic review more organized and efficient. Unfortunately, no one tool takes you through the entire process. However, many tools and software are interoperable and you can move data from one to another as you move through the review. To see descriptions of all tools available, both free and for fee, visit the Systematic Review Toolbox.

Planning Tools

Planning a systematic review is a complex process because it is a team endeavor and involves a huge set of data. The tools below help guide researchers through the planning stage with decision tools, checklists, and more. 

Reference Managers

Many researchers use reference managers during the literature searching stage of a systematic review. The references of all identified sources can be imported from databases, stored, organized, and deduplicated in a reference manager. Reference managers usually have a share function, allowing a research team to work on a shared project. The full text files of sources can also be stored in reference managers. After initial screening, the selected sources can be downloaded in a file type compatible with screening software, such as Covidence and Rayyan.

The UNT Libraries sponsor the manager, RefWorks. All UNT affiliated students, faculty, and staff can create a free account. To get started with your RefWorks account, visit the library's RefWorks guide. If RefWorks isn't for you, visit the library's Reference Managers guide to learn about available free reference managers.

Screening Software

This type of software supports screening of large numbers of publications by a research team during a systematic review. It has the tools to perform an initial review of abstracts followed by a review of full text documents. Screening software tracks what each team member decides about inclusion/exclusion of publications and identifies those needing resolutions. The software also supports labeling or tagging of sources by topic or any other tag useful to the researchers. Both free and subscription-based software is available. 

Collaborative Workspaces

A systematic review team needs an online space for communications, calendars, workflows, assignments, and files. Your workplace may already have software to support these activities, such as Microsoft SharePoint, Teams, and Planner. There are also some free applications that may suit your team's purposes. Be sure to look at their restrictions and test them out before starting a review!

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This work is a derivative of "Systematic Reviews", created by [author name if apparent] and © University of North Texas, used under CC BY-NC 4.0 International.

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