What software and tools can I use for data extraction?

Most systematic review software tools have data extraction functionality that can save you time and effort. Here at UNC, we use a systematic review software called Covidence, but you can use other tools for data extraction as well.

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Systematic Review Software

Covidence allows you to

Covidence's new data extraction features are detailed in the "Data Extraction in Covidence"  box at the end of this page.

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Spreadsheet or Database Software

You can also use spreadsheet or database software to create custom extraction forms. Spreadsheet functions such as drop-down menus and range checks can speed up the process and help prevent data entry errors. Relational databases (such as Microsoft Access) can help you extract information from different categories like citation details, demographics, participant selection, intervention, outcomes, etc.

RevMan logo


RevMan offers collection forms for descriptive information on population, interventions, and outcomes, and quality assessments, as well as for data for analysis and forest plots. The form elements may not be changed, and data must be entered manually.  RevMan is a free software download.

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Form or Survey Software

Survey or form tools can help you create custom forms with many different question types, such as multiple choice, drop downs, ranking, and more.  Content from these tools can often be exported to spreadsheet or database software as well.  Here at UNC we have access to the survey/form software Qualtrics.

Electronic Documents or Paper & Pencil

In the past, people often used paper and pencil to record the data they extracted from articles. Handwritten extraction is less popular now due to widespread electronic tools.  You can record extracted data in electronic tables or forms created in Microsoft Word or other word processing programs, but this process may take longer than many of our previously listed methods.  If chosen, the electronic document or paper-and-pencil extraction methods should only be used for small reviews, as larger sets of articles may become unwieldy. These methods may also be more prone to errors in data entry than some of the more automated methods.

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