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Table 1 Comparison of the functionality of currently available systematic review management software packages

From: Online tools supporting the conduct and reporting of systematic reviews and systematic maps: a case study on CADIMA and review of existing tools

Software name Ownership Website Descriptiona Intended field(s) of research Available support Stages of the SR process supportedb Web–online Downloadable Supports offline working Supports team of reviewers Text mining features (for screening, data extraction or synthesis) Open source Costc
CADIMA [32] JKI—Julius Kühn-Institut “CADIMA supports the conduct of systematic reviews and evidence/systematic maps by the provision of a freely available online tool.” Any, particularly suitable for Environmental Evidence systematic maps and reviews Development team is available to provide support or software modifications Qu, Pi, Du, Sc, Co, Cr, Do Yes No Yes (at data coding stage) Yes Text mining capabilities in development No Free
Colandr Conservation International “computer-assisted systematic mapping software for evidence synthesis” Any, particularly suitable for environment and development sectors Colandr Community website, videos, documentation Pi, Se, Du, Sc, Co, Sy, Do Yes No No Yes Machine learning approaches to assist with article screening and data extraction Yes Free
Covidence [33] Covidence is a non-profit organisation “Covidence is a not-for-profit service working in partnership with Cochrane to improve the production and use of systematic reviews for health and wellbeing.” Healthcare and medical science, designed for Cochrane reviews Detailed help documentation and demonstration videos. Contact support available Du, Sc, Co, Cr Yes No No Yes No No Range of packages e.g. ‘Single’: $240 USD per year, one review, unlimited reviewers
DistillerSR [34] Privately held, Evidence Partners “DistillerSR is the world’s most used systematic review software. It was designed from the ground up to give you a better review experience, faster project completion and transparent, audit-ready results.” Any 8X5 live technical support and detailed user manual with explanatory videos. Support for international character sets Se (PubMed), Du, Sc, Co, Sy, Do Yes No No Yes In develoment. Currently supports keyword highlightingd No Range of packages e.g. Student FREE: USD$0 and’Faculty’: USD$75 per month
Early review organizing software (EROS) [35] Institute of Clinical Effectiveness and Health Policy “EROS is a new web-based software designed specifically to perform the first stages of a systematic review.” Healthcare and medical science Email support and a user guide Sc, Co, Cr Yes No No Yes No No A donation for development (USD 600 per year for a team of up to four reviewers) is requested for non-Cochrane reviews (Cochrane reviews can use Covidence for free)
EPPI-Reviewer 4 [36] EPPI-Centre “EPPI-Reviewer 4 is a multi-user web-based application for managing and analyzing data for use in research synthesis.” Any Detailed user manual and developers are available with advice and to make modification where possible Se, Du, Sc, Co, Cr, Sy, Do Yes No No Yes Text mining to assist with identifying relevant studies No User fee £10 per user per month, plus shareable review fee £35 per month
Health Assessment Workspace Collaborative (HAWC) [37, 38] Collaborative initiative “HAWC is a modular, content management system designed to store, display, and synthesize multiple data sources for the purpose of producing human health assessments of chemicals.” Healthcare and medical science Online documentation and Github repository. Requires knowledge of Python to run and to interpret help documentation Se, Sc, Co, Cr, Sy, Do Yes No No Yes Unavailable Yes Free
METAGEAR package for R [39] Marc J. Lajeunesse “The metagear package for R contains tools for facilitating systematic reviews, data extraction, and meta-analyses.” Any Online documentation and the developer is available for questions. Requires knowledge of R in order to run the software although there is a GUI interface for abstract screening Sc, Co, Sy No Yes Yes, package operates offline Yes “PDF downloader to automate the retrieval of journal articles from online data bases; automated data extractions from scatter-plots, box-plots and bar-plots” Yes Free
PARSIFAL Parsifal is a non-profit organisation “Parsifal is an online tool designed to support researchers to perform systematic literature reviews within the context of Software Engineering.” Software engineering FAQs, online videos, Github repository ( and email support available Pi, Se, Du, Sc, Co, Sy Yes No No Yes No Yes Free
Rayyan [40] Qatar Computing Research Institute “Authors create systematic reviews, collaborate on them, maintain them over time and get suggestions for article inclusion.” Any, close alignment with Cochrane reviews Online forum Pi, Se, Du, Sc Yes No Yes, using a mobile app Yes The support vector machine classifier learns from users’ decisions about including and excluding studies and scores unclassified studies for likely relevance. Similarity graph function for exploring citation networks No Free
REviewER Empirical Software Engineering Group “REviewER aims at assisting researchers in the laborious process of conduction of systematic reviews.” Any, particularly software engineering. GitHub repository ( No user guide. Advanced coding skills required Qu, Pi, Se, Du, Sc No Yes Yes, package operates offline Yes No Yes Free
RevMan 5 [41] (this software is no longer being developed) Cochrane Community “Review Manager 5 (RevMan 5) is the software used for preparing and maintaining Cochrane Reviews.” Healthcare and medical science, designed for Cochrane reviews Online documentation. RevMan 5 support accounts are only available to registered Cochrane authors Pi, Sc, Co, Cr, Sy, Do d No Yes Yes, package operates offline Yes (cannot edit simultaneously) No No RevMan 5 is free for Cochrane Reviewers or purely academic use. Commercial users require a license
RevMan Web (will be available for beta-testing in 2017, building on RevMan 5) Cochrane Community “RevMan Web is a new, web-based platform for preparing and maintaining Cochrane Reviews.” Healthcare and medical science, designed for Cochrane reviews RevMan Web will integrate with several other Cochrane software packages Unavailable Yes Unavailable Unavailable Unavailable Unavailable Unavailable Unavailable
SESRA (supporting systematic literature reviews in software engineering) [29] UNIVALI—Universidade do Vale do Itajaí “Collaborative research, automated searches, online reference management, support to all the process phases and activities.” Any, particularly designed for software engineering User guide and introductory videos available in Portuguese only Qu, Pi, Sc, Co, Sy, Do Yes No No Yes No Proposed in future Free
SLR-tool [42] ALARCOS Research Group “…a free tool… to be used by researchers from any discipline, and not only Software Engineering.” Any, particularly designed for software engineering Unavailable Qu, Pi, Du, Sc, Co, Cr, Do No Yes Yes, package operates offline No Yes, for example “…to cluster the documents by using the similarities among them, highlighting key words that identify each group of documents.” No Free
SLuRp (systematic literature unified Review program) [43] See authors “…to support the complex task of managing large numbers of papers, sharing tasks amongst a research team and following the arduous and rigorous SLR methodology recommended by Kitchenham and Charters.” Software engineering No user guide, minimal support information on product website. Requires use of MySql and Tomcat to run Se, Sc, Co, Cr, Sy, Do Partially Unavailable Unavailable Yes No Yes Free
SRDB.PRO—systematic review intelligence Platform Privately held “…the first, enterprise level Business Intelligence platform designed specifically to improve the way in which the pharmaceutical industry and healthcare consultancies conduct systematic reviews and data analysis.” Healthcare and medical science, targeting the pharmaceutical industry and healthcare consultancies User guide. Phone and email support Se (PubMed), Du, Sc, Co, Cr, Sy, Do No Yes Yes, package operates offline Yes No No SRDB.PRO Hosted is free for non-commercial use and starts at £70/USD$119 per month for 1 active user. SRDB.PRO Enterprise is more expensive
SRDR (systematic review data repository) Brown Evidence-based Practice Center “…a Web-based tool for data extraction and storage of systematic review data.” Healthcare and medical science User manual, FAQs and training videos Se, Co, Sy Yes No No Yes No No Free
StArt (state of the art through systematic review) [44] Laboratory of Research on Software Engineering (LaPES) “…aims to help the researcher, giving support to the application of this technique [systematic review]” Software engineering The online StArt community provides a forum, tutorials and videos Pi, Du, Sc, Co, Cr, Sy, Do No Yes Yes, package operates offline No Yes, calculates scores of likely relevance of articles and similarity between articles No Free
SUMARI (system for the unified management, assessment and review of information). (designed to replace JBI CReMS software) Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) “SUMARI supports 10 review types, including reviews of effectiveness, qualitative research, economic evaluations, prevalence/incidence, aetiology/risk, mixed methods, umbrella/overviews, text/opinion, diagnostic test accuracy and scoping reviews.” Healthcare and medical science, also social sciences and humanities FAQs and video tutorials Se, Sc (full text only), Co, Cr, Sy, Do Yes No No Yes No No Limited access beyond JBI special users initially. Subscriptions will be made available via Wolters Kluwer
SWIFT-review (Sciome workbench for interactive computer-facilitated text-mining) [45] Privately held, Sciome “a freely available interactive workbench which provides numerous tools to assist with problem formulation and literature prioritization.” Healthcare and medical science Tutorial and user guide Se (PubMed), Sc (works in concert with SWIFT-ACTIVE Screener), Co, Sy, Do No Yes Yes, package operates offline Yes Yes, the “software utilizes recently developed statistical modeling and machine learning methods that allow users to identify over-represented topics within the literature corpus and to rank-order titles and abstracts for manual screening.” No Free
SyRF (systematic review and meta-analysis facility) [46] CAMARADES and NC3Rs “SyRF is a fully integrated online platform for performing systematic reviews of preclinical studies.” Preclinical studies e.g. experimental animal studies Online contact form, online tutorials available on request. User guide, video tutorial and in app tutorials in development Qu, Pi, Se (PubMed), Sc, Co, Cr, Sy Yes No (under development) No (offline app under development) Yes Risk of bias items can be automatically extracted and machine learning is available to aid the screening process for English articles No Free
  1. aDescriptions taken from product websites, referenced documentation or through direct email contact with developers (where necessary)
  2. bStages of a systematic review: Qu setting up the review, with question formulation and/or stakeholder engagement, Pi scoping/pilot study, protocol development (e.g. PICO elements specified), Se literature searching (e.g. via integration with publication databases). Excludes those which require search results to be manually uploaded, Du duplicate checking (e.g. automated marking of duplicates, or identification of potential duplicates for manual checking), Sc article screening/study selection, Co facilitates data coding/tagging and extraction to support meta-analyses, Cr critical appraisal/risk of bias assessments, Sy facilitates quantitative/qualitative syntheses of results, Do generation of documentation/output of text, figures or tables to assist with report writing
  3. cCosts taken from respective websites, correct as of 02/11/2017. EROS cost estimates were provided by email (Gabriela Rodriguez, 07/04/17)