Documenting Your Search Process
It is vital to keep close track of your databases, strategies, and result counts, as these are an essential element of your systematic review. Often the search process is included in your review as an Appendix to demonstrate your adherence to your review methodology, such as inclusion and exclusion criteria.
The process of reviewing abstracts and determining whether they will be included in your review must also be documented, and can also be managed with a spreadsheet, or with the notes functionality of a citation manager.
While systematic review management tools are available for the entire process (see second box below), tracking your search process can be as simple as creating a spreadsheet with a sheet for each database or resource - see examples linked below.
Tracking the Progress of Systematic Reviews
A Systematic Review involves numerous steps beyond the search. While documenting the search strategies is vital, an essential element of a systematic review is tracking progress on all of the review stages. This can be managed a variety of ways.
- PRISMA: Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses
- A number of fee-based products have been developed to facilitate all of the steps of a Systematic Review.
- Use of these products is not required!