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Systematic Reviews: Managing the Process

A Guide to Conducting Systematic Reviews

Academic Integrity Overview

When to Stop Searching and What's Next?

The hardest part of searching is knowing when to stop. 

You can either:

1: Set a date to stop searching OR

2. Stop once you start to see the same articles over and over again. 

Questions to Consider:

1. Have all the appropriate databases been identified and searched? 

2. Have non-English language sources and grey literature been searched? 

3. Have you modified the search strategy by adjusting search terms as you identified and exampined citations highly relevant to the topic? 

4. How many unique or relevant citations were identified  in the last 2 searches of databases, grey lit, or other sources? 

After the Search

You will need to:

  • Evaluate the Results:
    • Screen by title/abstract
    • Select by full text
    • appraise methods
  • Code the same info from each study
  • Explain and discuss results
  • Summarize in a report. 

Managing the Process

Free Resources

Fee-Based Resources


Citation Management Tips

Once you've finished translating your search strategy to the syntax of each database you're searching, you will then: 

1. Run the search in each database.

2. Export the results as a BibTeX, MEDLINE, RIS, or XML file and save those files.

3. Import those files into a citation management program.

Exporting Citations from PubMed to EndNote

1. In your search results, click “Send to” in the upper right corner of the page, then “File”.

2. Under “Format” select “MEDLINE” and “Create File”.

3. Save the MEDLINE.txt file to your desktop.

4. In Endnote, Go to “File” and “Import” and then select “Import Option – PubMed (NLM)” and choose the MEDLINE file from your desktop.


You will likely retrieve multiple versions of the same study as you search many databases and will need to de-duplicate your results before article screening. After you've performed your searches and imported the results into your citation management software:

  • In Endnote, from the menu select References -> "Find Duplicates".  Select which duplicate record to keep by selecting "Keep This Record".
  • In Zotero, click on the "Duplicate Items" collection in your library. You can resolve duplicates by merging the files. 
  • In Mendeley, select your folder of interest. Go to your Tools menu and select "Check for Duplicates". Select the details that you would like to keep from each of the documents. Click merge to create one entry containing the complete document details.
  • Covidence also automatically de-duplicates your results. Click here for more information about Covidence de-duplication. 
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