Systematic Reviews & Meta-analyses: Study Review
& Selection

Guidance on conducting systematic reviews and meta-analyses.

Overview - Study Selection

Study Selection and the process you follow during this step is another key aspect of Systematic Reviews. This step, your planning for it, and your adherence to your a priori designed protocol and inclusion/exclusion criteria for study inclusion and exclusion are all part of what makes this a *systematic* and comprehensive review of the literature on your focused research question.

Key components and process for Study Selection:

  • All Results: Start with your library of all your search results (export a back up copy of the library at this stage so you have it in case)

    • Consider a citation manager tool to make this easier

  • Duplicates: Identify and remove duplicate references (citation managers all have a method to help you identify duplicates and select the one to keep) *Be sure you do follow through checking in this step - sometimes something may be identified as a duplicate when it's not

    • Consider a citation manager tool to make this easier

    • Record the number of duplicates for your PRISMA diagram

  • Title Abstract Screening: export your results to a spreadsheet with columns for Year, Title, Abstract, and Decisions: Yes, No, Maybe, and Notes

  • Distribute to Reviewers: send result sets to your reviewers, confirm they have the inclusion / exclusion criteria sheet you've agreed to follow

  • Collate Results: when reviewers return results, compare and group Yes/Yes, No/No, and identify items needing consensus or 3rd review

    • Conduct 3rd review / consensus process for disagreement items

  • Record your included studies at this point

  • Move on to Full Text review: send result sets to your reviewers, confirm they have the inclusion / exclusion criteria sheet you've agreed to follow

  • Collate Results: when reviewers return results, compare and group Yes/Yes, No/No, and identify items needed consensus or 3rd review

    • Conduct 3rd review / consensus process for disagreement items

  • Record your final included studies at this point

  • Move on to Critical Appraisal