Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Systematic Reviews: How to screen

Overview of systematic review methodology and key strategies for searching and reporting to the Cochrane Collaboration's Gold Standard

Heading: How to screen

Screening overview

Once you have run your search on the databases identified in your protocol, you need to screen the results. Screening is a two-part process in which you determine whether each individual article meets your inclusion criteria, and therefore should be included in your review.

To reduce bias, it's best practice (and a requirement of some guidelines) to have a minimum of two reviewers to screen (yourself and someone else from your team).

How do I screen?

  1. After you've finished creating your search strategy, save it as the final version in each database that you identified in your protocol. Once you have them all ready to go, run each one and export all of your results to EndNote, using a separate group to store the results from each database. Keep your EndNote library safe and backed up, as you will need to refer back to it for full text and your PRISMA flowchart (reporting).

  2. From EndNote, export your references. Then import to Covidence to commence screening.

The Two Stages of Screening:

undefined First pass (Title / Abstract)
Number 2  Second pass (Full text)
This is where you examine titles and abstracts to remove obviously irrelevant material. At this stage you may not need to provide a justification for your exclusions. This is where you examine the full text for compliance with your eligibility criteria. At this stage you must provide reasons why you exclude documents.


Guidelines and standards

'Specify the methods used to decide whether a study met the inclusion criteria of the review, including how many reviewers screened each record and each report retrieved, whether they worked independently, and, if applicable, details of automation tools used in the process.' - PRISMA 2020 Explanation and Elaboration, p. 7

Other standards


Learn how to manage references using EndNote

Click to access Prepare for screening page


Learn how to screen and extract using Covidence

Navigate to screen with covidence page