VU Systematic Literature Reviews: Tools


This page describes various tools available to help conduct a systematic review.  Some tools are freely available, some require a subscription. Contact your College Librarian for more information.

Systematic review project management

Covidence is a web-based collaboration software platform that facilitates the production of systematic, scoping and other literature reviews.  Covidence is the primary screening and data extraction tool for Cochrane authors conducting standard intervention reviews.

The  Covidence program can be used to  upload search results (from citation management tools); screen abstracts and full text study reports; complete data collection; conduct risk of bias assessment; data can be exported to RevMan and Excel for anaysis.

Covidence charges a subscription fee. A free trial is available (limited number of records).

Covidence Training videos include quick tips and how to videos as well as indepth webinars. 


JBI SUMARI (System for the Unified Management of the Assessment and Review of Information) is an online web-based application available from the Joanna Briggs Institute. The entire systematic review process can be managed from within the application. 

JBI SUMARI Knowledge Base provides step by step instructions and video tutorials. 

Access to JBI Sumari is via individual subscription. Victoria University  does not have an institutional subscription. 

Reviewers who complete a JBI training program are eligible for a complimentary 12 mth subscription. 

A 14 day free trial is available from

Rayyan supports the systematic review process. References can be uploaded from citation management programs to Rayyan. The program includes a duplication detection feature. Rayan facilitates the screening process of a systematic review and includes a blind mode reviewing option.

Rayyan is available as an open source product or a fee-based service provides additional tools and support. 

Watch an introductory tutorial on using Rayyan software.

The Rayyan Help Center provides access to guides, FAQ's and a community of practice discussion forum 

Critical appraisal tools

AMSTAR 2. A critical appraisal tool for assessing the quality of systematic reviews that include randomised or non-randomised studies of healthcare interventions. Checklist. Guidance Document. 

CASP Critical Assessment Skills Programme checklists. There are  eight critical appraisal tools designed for use with Systematic Reviews, Randomised Controlled Trials, Cohort Studies, Case Control Studies, Economic Evaluations, Diagnostic Studies, Qualitative studies and Clinical Prediction Rule. 

Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine  Critical appraisal worksheets from the CEBM, Oxford University. Includes worksheets to use for critical appraisal of systematic reviews, RCTs, prognosis studies, diagnostic studies and qualitative studies. 

JBI’s Critical Appraisal Tools. There are thirteen checklists designed to assist in assessing the trustworthiness, relevance and results of published papers. Checklists for critical appraisal of RCT's, systematic reviews and qualitative research are included here. 


Risk of bias tools

Cochrane risk-of-bias tool for randomized trials (RoB 2).  The recommended tool for use in Cochrane Reviews of randomized trials. 

Cochrane ROB-ME A tool for assessing Risk Of Bias due to Missing Evidence in a synthesis

Non-randomized studies of interventions

 Cochrane Risk Of Bias In Non-Randomized Studies - of Interventions (ROBINS-I)

 Newcastle-Ottawa Scale  Tool for quality assessment of nonrandomised studies, including case-control and cohort studies.

Evidence summary tables

GRADEpro software can be used to summarize and grade your evidence with several available table formats. Free  for up to three researchers. Access support via the GRADEpro Knowledge base.

Text mining: identification of search terms

Text mining: Identification of keywords

When developing a comprehensive list of search terms, the following tools may be useful to explore:

For a more comprehensive list of  tools available for mining text visit the JCU Systematic Review Guide.