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Systematic reviews: Screen

Screening records in systematic reviews

  • A minimum of two people need to screen search results first on title and abstract, and then on full text.
  • There needs to be a systematic way to resolve conflicts.
  • Covidence systematic review software makes this process much quicker and is available to SVHM staff through the library.

Screening on title and abstract

Image by Helen Wilding

We strongly recommend screening records in Covidence systematic review software.

This web based program makes the process very quick and easy, as it can be done anywhere with internet access. Reviewers are blinded to other votes. This is how it looks:

Covidence records statistics of each process in accordance with the PRISMA flow chart so that you don't have to.

Resolving conflicts in screening

When two reviewers disagree on whether to include or exclude a record during screening there needs to be a way to break the tie. Common methods include:

  • A third reviewer resolves the conflict - this is often a supervisor or senior member of the team who has limited time for the usual screening
  • Two (or more) reviewers discuss each conflict until agreement is reached

Whichever method you use, it needs to be consistent and described as part of the methodology.

This is how it looks in Covidence:


Clicking on "Resolve conflicts" takes you to this screen:

Guide Author

Helen Wilding, Senior Research Librarian

Carl de Gruchy Library, St Vincent's Hospital Melbourne

Literature Searching, Systematic Reviews, Mental Health liaison 
Thursdays, Fridays & alternate Wednesdays
Helen's profile | Researchgate | Orcid