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Systematic and Systematic-like Reviews


Screening is the process of identifying which studies from your literature search(es) will be included in your review. Each individual article must be assessed to see if it meets the inclusion criteria you've set out in your protocol.

The Screening Process

After you have run your searches, you will need to remove duplicates from your complete list of results. You can do this in EndNote - see Find Duplicates in the EndNote library guide. Then you need to screen the results to find the most rigorous and appropriate to help answer your research question.

The reviewing team

To reduce the risk of selection errors or bias, you should have at least two reviewers (including yourself) to screen your search results.

Two stages of screening

1. Title/Abstract screening: You need to scan the titles and abstracts to remove the obviously irrelevant studies. At this stage you might not need to provide a justification for your exclusions.

2. Full text screening: You need to locate the full text of the included studies and carefully examine each one for compliance with your eligibility criteria. The reviewers should document the reason for excluding any articles.  

Your review paper should provide details of how many reviewers screened the articles and how any disagreements were resolved. This is usually in the Methods section.

For more information go to The Cochrane Handbook - Part 2, Chapter 4.6 (Selecting studies)

Screening tools

Most of the tools listed in this guide in Tools and Software can be used for screening:

  • EndNote - If all your results have been exported into an EndNote library, you can create groups for inclusion and exclusion. You can also use EndNote in conjunction with SUMARI or Rayyan. See also: Peters, M. D. (2017). Managing and coding references for systematic reviews and scoping reviews in EndNote. Medical Reference Services Quarterly, 36(1), 19-31.
  • JBI SUMARI (Charles Sturt users can access SUMARI at the JBI Login screen)
  • Rayyan 
  • Covidence 

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