COVIDENCE: A Game Changer for Systemic Reviews

March 9, 2021

If you are planning on conducting a systematic review consider using Covidence for your next project! Your UC Berkeley account gives you access to an unlimited number of reviews and citations per review, as well enhanced support. 

As part of my Masters of Public Health Capstone Project, I completed a systematic review and meta-analysis to assess suicides among previously incarcerated persons. Covidence streamlined the most time-consuming and error-prone parts of my review. Let me share with you why, while showing you snippets of my most recent experience with Covidence.

1. Removing duplicates and preparing for review Your favorite reference managers are fairly good at removing duplicates and exporting title and abstracts for review. Covidence citation imports are easy to perform: you drag and drop your RIS or PubMed formats from your search results into the web app. Once uploaded, Covidence will cycle through the citations and remove any duplicates for you.  

2. Screening title & abstracts is a breeze Here’s where Covidence really begins to shine. When it comes to the review portion your best bet is to export the titles and abstracts to a spreadsheet. You may, as I have, struggle with the varying sizes of the text boxes due to large abstracts and find yourself increasingly frustrated when trying to move between hundreds (or thousands) of rows. Let’s not even talk about the portion where we need to compare with our second reviewer! Covidence has created an easy to use user interface that shows you all the necessary information on the lefthand side of the page: title, authors, DOI, abstract. On the right hand side are three buttons: No, Maybe, Yes. It’s that easy. You click your choice and Covidence will automatically move to the next unreviewed title & abstract. You no longer need to move through all of those spreadsheet rows.

3. Resolving conflicts is quick Covidence will compile all the conflicts the reviewers generate. A similar interface will allow you to choose Yes or No to include the title & abstract to the next review stage.

4. Rinse and repeat Full-text review follows the same format and is just as easy to complete. During full-text review, you can also use built in exclusion reasons or add your own. An added bonus is that you can also attach your full-text PDFs to Covidence so that both reviewers have access to the articles without having to individually search for them during their review.

5. Covidence is keeping track of your PRISMA for you The entire PRISMA process is tracked for you by Covidence, including the number of studies screened, deemed irrelevant, and the exclusion reasons. Your custom exclusion criteria are compiled in this PRISMA as well.

6. They even helped automate your data extraction and risk of bias assessment! Covidence provides flexibility with the types of tables you need for the data you want to extract, as well as allowing you to directly highlight where in the PDF the values are coming from. You add notes, too. 

7. You can export results at any stage Covidence makes it easy to export your results at any stage of your review.