Reference management

Reference management software

Learning some basic reference management skills will keep your review running smoothly and give you control of what can feel like a daunting task. There are a number of traditional programs available to help such as Endnote and Reference Manager and free software such as Zotero and Mendeley.

For screening searches, there are a number of options. Covidence is a screening and data extraction tool and is free to use for Cochrane review authors. Rayyan is an alternative free tool for screening search results. Both of these tools support blinded screening of search results. A recent study of title and abstract screening tools to support systematic reviews recomends both of these tools.

If you decide to use traditional reference management software, you need to import the search that Liz sends you into the reference management software. Then decide what references are to be included/excluded, then export the references in suitable batches (e.g. all included studies), then import them into RevMan. The links are step-by-step guides to perform these operations in EndNote, but the other programs work similarly.

PRISMA diagrams

All reviews must include a Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews (PRISMA) study flow diagram, which is generated using a figure wizard in RevMan. Use this spreadsheet to keep a record of all your decisions and make completing the PRISMA diagram easy. Liz reported a format to present PRISMA study flow diagrams in updates of reviews - have a look here.

Search dates

Cochrane Reviews must have had a full literature search within a year before publication. We aim to have the search date within 6 months if possible. The procedure we use to meet this target is here.