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Systematic and Scoping Reviews Search Methodology

Reporting on the search methodology

The PRISMA Statement is the key guideline for reporting on the results of your literature search. PRISMA provides a checklist and a template flow diagram:

Publication Requirements

If you're intending to publish in a journal, check its Instructions for Authors for any guidelines specific to systematic or scoping reviews. The resources below offer some general guidance. 

RefWorks for Systematic Reviews

Legacy RefWorks or other citation management software is very helpful for managing and deduplicating search results. Please see the documents below for step-by-step guidance with using Legacy RefWorks for a systematic review.

Note: Some databases place limitations on how many results you can export at once to RefWorks. For instance, in Ovid the limit is 2000, but it's better to limit to batches of 1000 at a time.

Other Citation Management Tools

There are many other citation management programs available besides RefWorks. UBC Library offers support for Mendeley and Zotero. EndNote is another popular option.

Zotero and Mendeley have been found to have some limitations for systematic reviews. Notably:

  • Incorrect importing of citations from Ovid databases (especially EMBASE)
  • Can only deduplicate one reference at a time in Zotero
  • Zotero slows down with large libraries (over 30,000 references)
  • Mendeley will, at times, not import duplicate references - use the numbers reported by the databases, rather than by Mendeley, for your PRISMA flow diagram
  • Exporting to Excel for screening is difficult with Mendeley (easy in Zotero and RefWorks)

Other Systematic Review Software

These tools offer additional support for screening and data extraction phases of a systematic review.