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Systematic Reviews: A How-To Guide

Step 4: Select Studies

Once you have your search results, the job of selecting the studies to include in your review begins. 

Select studies for inclusion based on your pre-defined criteria. Articles/studies require two rounds of screening. 

  • Title/Abstract: First, screen the title/abstract of articles for basic relevancy 
    • Remove studies that don't meet your topic
    • You will remove most of the articles in this round
    • If you're on the fence about an article, it's better to keep it for full-text review
  • Full Text: Second, screen the full-text of remaining studies by at least 2 qualified reviewers
    • Remove studies that don't meet your criteria (This simultaneously involves Step 5: Assess Quality)
    • The remaining studies will be those included in your review

Useful tipCovidence can make the screening and selection process much easier for your review team. Visit our Covidence information page for more details. 

Study Selection Process

Study selection is a multi-step process. The first step in the selection process involves a read through of the all the article titles and abstracts found in your search to determine relevance to your review and inclusion/exclusion. Selection will be based on your pre-defined inclusion criteria. Studies that are being considered for inclusion in the review will need to be read in full text and critically appraised for quality.

Additional help on the study selection process: