Skip to Main Content

Systematic Reviews: Screening Process

Systematic Review: Screening steps


​​​When reviewing the final search results from your chosen databases (and other sources if relevant), multiple reviewers (you and your supervisors or co-reviewers) will make decisions on which articles to include and exclude based on the criteria specified in your protocol. The first stage of this is usually based on titles and abstracts, then a full-text analysis follows before data extraction.

  • Pre-screening:   Record the numbers of results from each database or source recorded before screening commences.
  • Remove duplicates:  Covidence automates this process, but you can choose to de-duplicate references within EndNote.
  • Title/abstract screening:  Reviewers scan titles and abstracts to see if they match the criteria or have some value to the systematic review.  This may be done by a single reviewer, but done separately by multiple reviewers and the results compared, reduces the likelihood of bias.
  • Full-text screening:  Multiple reviewers individually look through the full-text of included articles to fine-tune the final collection of articles that will contribute to the review.

You can use a range of tools that can be used to store citations and do the screening.

Endnote and systematic review management software

At CAHS Medical Library we support EndNote (reference manager), which can assist you streamline the review process by storing all your citations in your EndNote library for extraction onto your tools below if required.

Other tools that may be useful for screening include:

  • Abstrackr (free)
  • Colandr
  • EPPI-Reviewer (subscription required)
  • Litstream|ICF
  • Rayyan (free)
  • Revman (for Cochrane reviews mainly)
  • SUMARI (for JBI reviews mainly) - enter via any Ovid database and look for the EBP tools on the top blue toolbar.  You will need to create a personal account with OVID database to access SUMARI.

 (Note that CAHS Medical Library does not offer support for these tools, except for SUMARI.  

Apply Criteria

As each reviewer assesses the articles returned by the searches, they must adhere to the inclusion and exclusion criteria that were defined in the protocol. A checklist or table will assist with this.


Author Study aim Location Data collection & analysis methods Results/ Relevant to topic/
Date Hypothesis Study design   Findings research question
Journal Research questions Participants