What tools can I use for screening articles?

Answered By: HSL Ask Us Librarians
Last Updated: May 20, 2022     Views: view

There are many tools that can be useful for organizing the screening process including Covidence, Rayyan, Abstrackr, and HAWC.   

UNC currently has an institutional subscription to Covidence making it available for free to UNC-affiliated users. HSL can provide classes and support for Covidence. To learn more visit the Covidence LibGuide. HSL does not currently offer in-house support for other screening tools; however, links to training materials are provided directly below.  

All of these tools support reference importing of multiple file types (.ris & txt), in-/excluding references, exporting results, and tagging with keywords. Additionally, they are all web-based and therefore can be used on a mac or pc. They cannot assist with protocol development or automated searching. The chart below provides more details to help you compare and choose a screening tool.

The table compares Covidence, Rayyan, Abstrackr, and HAWC (from left to right) based on a number of features.
Feature: Covidence Rayyan Abstrackr HAWC
Cost UNC has a subscription to Covidence Free Free Free
Support available at UNC HSL Yes No No No
Quality Assessment Yes Yes No Yes
Data Extraction Yes  Yes No Yes
Allows Multiple User Support Yes Yes No No
Reference Allocation Yes Yes Yes No
Multiple Screening Phases Yes No No No
Discrepancy Resolving Yes Yes Yes No
Show Project Progress Yes Yes Yes No
Attaching Comments Yes No Yes No
Attaching PDFs Yes Yes No Yes
Keyword Highlighting Yes Yes Yes No
Deduplication Yes Yes No No
PRISMA Diagram Yes No No Yes
Interrater Reliability Yes Yes No No
Mobile Friendly Version Yes Yes No No
Export Results File Types RIS, CSV, TXT RIS, BibTex, CSV, EndNote RIS, CSV, XML XLSX

If the tools above don't meet your needs, you can also try this Excel tool called the VonVille Method.  

Information about screening tools and features:Van der Mierden, S., Tsaioun, K., Bleich, A., & Leenaars, C. H. C. (2019). Software tools for literature screening in systematic reviews in biomedical research. ALTEX : Alternativen zu Tierexperimenten, 36(3), 508-517.

Quality Assessment: The tool supports risk of bias and quality assessment. 

Data Extraction: The tool supports data extraction. 

Allows Multiple User Support: It is possible for two or more users to work on the same project at the same time, without seeing how others have voted.

Reference Allocation: It is possible to assign references to reviewers. 

Discrepancy Resolving: There is official support for resolving conflict between reviewers. 

Show Project Progress: the tool can display the progress of each reviewer and the overall project.

Attaching Comments: It is possible to add comments to a reference while screening.

Attaching PDFs: It is possible to upload PDFs for full-text screening. 

Keyword Highlighting: It is possible to to display highlighted keywords during screening.

Deduplication: The tool will identify and remove duplicate citations. 

PRISMA Diagram: The tool can automatically generate a PRISMA flow diagram. 

Import Multiple file Types: It is possible to import formatted references and the tool supports multiple file types. 

Interrater Reliability: The tool can calculate and display interrater reliability.

Mobile Friendly Version: It is possible to screen on a mobile device. 

Export Results File Types: References can be exported from the screening tool into the listed file types. 


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