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Systematic Reviews

A guide directing researchers on the systematic review process. Layout based on Doing a Systematic Review: A Student's Guide, 2nd Edition, by Angela Boland, M. Gemma Cherry, and Rumona Dickson.

Planning a Review


Staying Organized

In a large-scale, comprehensive review, planning ahead data methods and modalities is crucial. Ask yourself these questions (Boland, Cherry, & Dickson, 2017):

  • What extent of the data is needed?
  • How will this data be used once it's collected?
  • What format will the data be stored in?

Knowing these pieces of information outright before beginning to review studies will greatly aid researchers in staying organized.


Managing Files

The systematic review process is complex and requires a lot of time management and organization. This can be achieved by planning the steps of the review prior to beginning the review itself (Boland, Cherry, & Dickson, 2017).

  • Be consistent when storing information related to the research process.
    • Use folders and subfolders when storing digitally
    • Find a uniform place to keep physical papers and notes.
    • Designate a team member to be in charge of keeping these notes safe!
  • Use consistent language throughout the project, especially with controlled vocabulary.
  • Back up information regardless of where it's being stored - losing it means starting over!
    • The use of memory drives (USB), an external hard drive, and cloud storage are essential to preventing loss of data.
      • Duquesne provides access to Box for collaborating and storing files
      • Other possible storage software include Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive


Managing the Review

Before beginning the compilation process, meet with the research team and set a standard of what software will be used to manage references and extract data. We recommend using Covidence, EndNote, or a combination of the two.

While more options exist, Covidence and EndNote are free for Duquesne students, staff, and faculty.