Chapter 24 Doing a Systematic Review

  1. download all hits of the queries in the various databases (and through the various interfaces) as .bibtex (or .ris) files to your PC;

  2. import these and deduplicate these (you can do this with a reference manager, or with the metabefor functions, which of course is what I always do because it’s more transparent and efficient, and easy to re-run if you slightly change a query)

  3. write the merged file to disk and send it to all screeners;

  4. make sure screeners can only see title, keywords, and abstracts, and are blinded from authors, journal, and year etc;

  5. let screeners indicate for each entry why it is excluded (based on a progressive list of exclusion criteria, that is based on your extraction scripts), or, for entries they cannot exclude, indicate inclusion;

  6. if you have a lot of hits (thousands), usually you first screen based on title only, and only in the second round, on abstract for those entries that could not be excluded based on title;

  7. after screening based on abstracts, acquire full-texts and screen those again

  8. then you have your list of included sources

  9. something is only excluded if all two/three/… screeners exclude it (the reason can be different; but if one screener fails to exclude, it’s retained for the next step)