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ESMIG's Evidence Synthesis Resources Guide

About Tools

There is no single software or platform to manage the entire evidence synthesis process. What software tools you choose to use will be based on the project needs, your collaborators, and your own preferences, among other factors. This page provides links to the most commonly used software tools for evidence synthesis stages involving librarians. To find even more tools for evidence synthesis, visit:

Articles on Tools for Systematic Review Automation

There are increasingly many tools for automating steps of the systematic review process. Below are a few summary articles on this topic.

Clark, J., McFarlane, C., Cleo, G., Ishikawa Ramos, C., & Marshall, S. (2021). The Impact of Systematic Review Automation Tools on Methodological Quality and Time Taken to Complete Systematic Review Tasks: Case Study. JMIR Medical Education, 7(2), e24418. https://doi.org/10.2196/24418

Haddaway, N. R., Callaghan, M. W., Collins, A. M., Lamb, W. F., Minx, J. C., Thomas, J., & John, D. (2020). On the use of computer‚Äźassistance to facilitate systematic mapping. Campbell Systematic Reviews, 16(4). https://doi.org/10.1002/cl2.1129

Khalil, H., Ameen, D., & Zarnegar, A. (2022). Tools to support the automation of systematic reviews: A scoping review. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 144, 22–42. https://doi.org/10/gn6pqk

Marshall, I. J., & Wallace, B. C. (2019). Toward systematic review automation: A practical guide to using machine learning tools in research synthesis. Systematic Reviews, 8(1), 163-10. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13643-019-1074-9

Scott, A. M., Forbes, C., Clark, J., Carter, M., Glasziou, P., & Munn, Z. (2021). Systematic review automation tool use by systematic reviewers, health technology assessors and clinical guideline developers: Tools used, abandoned, and desired. MedRxiv 2021.04.26.21255833. https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.04.26.2125583

Tools for Searching and Search Strategy Development

There are increasingly more options for using tools that facilitate search strategy development and search and retrieval of records. Below are some of the tools that can be used to facilitate these steps in the process in which librarians are most involved.

Clark, J. M., Sanders, S., Carter, M., Honeyman, D., Cleo, G., Auld, Y., Booth, D., Condron, P., Dalais, C., Bateup, S., Linthwaite, B., May, N., Munn, J., Ramsay, L., Rickett, K., Rutter, C., Smith, A., Sondergeld, P., Wallin, M., … Beller, E. (2020). Improving the translation of search strategies using the Polyglot Search Translator: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of the Medical Library Association, 108(2), 195–207. https://doi.org/10.5195/jmla.2020.834

Grames, E. M., Stillman, A. N., Tingley, M. W., Elphick, C. S., & Freckleton, R. (2019). An automated approach to identifying search terms for systematic reviews using keyword co-occurrence networks. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 10(10), 1645–1654. https://doi.org/10.1111/2041-210X.13268

Haddaway, N. R., Grainger, M. J., & Gray, C. T. (2022). Citationchaser: A tool for transparent and efficient forward and backward citation chasing in systematic searching. Research Synthesis Methods, 13(4), 533–545. https://doi.org/10.1002/jrsm.1563

Tools for Information Management

Citation managers can be useful tools in the information management of evidence syntheses. They can facilitate deduplication across database searches, among other things. Below are some useful citation managers for evidence synthesis. Note that Mendeley is not recommended for use in evidence synthesis projects due to its limitations in tracking numbers of search results and removed duplicates. Also, see the next box on screening tool for additional information management and deduplication options.

Bramer, W. M., Giustini, D., de Jonge, G. B., Holland, L., & Bekhuis, T. (2016). De-duplication of database search results for systematic reviews in EndNote. Journal of the Medical Library Association, 104(3), 240–243. https://doi.org/10.3163/1536-5050.104.3.014

Hair, K., Bahor, Z., Macleod, M., Liao, J., & Sena, E. S. (2021). The Automated Systematic Search Deduplicator (ASySD): A rapid, open-source, interoperable tool to remove duplicate citations in biomedical systematic reviews (p. 2021.05.04.442412). bioRxiv. https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.05.04.442412

McKeown, S., & Mir, Z. M. (2021). Considerations for conducting systematic reviews: Evaluating the performance of different methods for de-duplicating references. Systematic Reviews, 10(1), 38. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13643-021-01583-y

Tools for Screening and More

There are many tools that librarians can recommend for the screening phases of evidence synthesis. Some platforms also support more than just screening--for example, some of these tools and platforms may be used to manage deduplication, title/abstract screening, full text review, data extraction and analysis. Below are just a few of the options available. Note that some of these tools also use machine learning approaches to facilitate screening.

Harrison, H., Griffin, S. J., Kuhn, I., & Usher-Smith, J. A. (2020). Software tools to support title and abstract screening for systematic reviews in healthcare: An evaluation. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 20(1), 7. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12874-020-0897-3