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Systematic Reviews: Finding, Choosing, & Storing Studies

Finding studies

 Books and computer

Once you have your inclusion and exclusion criteria, as well as the databases you intend to search, you can begin searching.

Make sure you keep a record of your search strategy so that your review is reproducible.

You will need a place to store the studies you find so that your reviewers can assess them.

There are several options for places to store and review studies, including reference managers and specially developed tools.

Reference Managers

One way to manage references is through the use of reference managers, like Mendeley, Zotero, or EndNote. Here are some guides to get you started:


There are also tools that have been created to assist in managing your search results when performing systematic reviews.

  • Rayyan - allows you to upload citations, label them, and invite collaborators to review as well. Video demonstration here. Free.
  • Abstrackr - created by Brown University, Abstrackr aids in screening abstracts. Details here.
  • Covidence - aids in review management and collaboration. Please note that the free account is only for less than 500 studies. 
  • Helena VonVille has created sophisticated Excel workbooks to help manage systematic reviews, and has even provided her email to assist users of the workbooks.

Duplicate reviews

See the following article on how to find and remove duplicate studies when searching: Identifying and removing duplicate records from systematic review searches, by Yoojin Kwon, Michelle Lemieux, Jill McTavish, and Nadine Wathen.