Software packages specifically designed for knowledge synthesis will typically include a record screening/study selection function. This allows more than one reviewer to independently screen the records without seeing other reviewers' decisions to include or exclude studies, and thus avoids bias.
The following systematic review addresses how text mining is being used in the screening process:
See: Rathbone J, Albarqouni L, Bakhit M, Beller E, Byambasuren O, Hoffmann T, et al. Expediting citation screening using pico-based title-only screening for identifying studies in scoping searches and rapid reviews. Syst Rev. 2017;6(1):233.
The McGill Library supports use of the following tool:
Critical appraisal should involve an assessment of the risk of bias in the relevant studies and may also involve an assessment of how the studies were reported.
As librarians, we are generally not involved in the appraisal process, but we can provide guidance on finding critical appraisal tools if needed. They are generally specific to a given study design or research methodology. The following are some suggested tools but this list is not exhaustive and they may not have been validated.
Julian PT Higgins, Douglas G Altman and Jonathan AC Sterne on behalf of the Cochrane Statistical Methods Group and the Cochrane Bias Methods Group. Assessing risk of bias in included studies. In Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions Version 5.1.0 [updated March 2011). Chapter 8. Available from http://handbook-5-1.cochrane.org
We recommend consulting these prior to starting your own systematic review of intervention studies, as they will draw your attention to important elements in a high quality review.
Systematic Review Toolbox - Under Advanced Search, select Other Tools, then select Quality Checklist, i.e. Critical Appraisal
Thomson H, Campbell M. “Narrative synthesis” of quantitative effect data in Cochrane reviews: Current issues and ways forward [Internet]. Cochrane Learning Live Webinar Series 2020 Feb. https://training.cochrane.org/resource/narrative-synthesis-quantitative-effect-data-cochrane-reviews-current-issues-and-ways.
Campbell, M., McKenzie, J. E., Sowden, A., Katikireddi, S. V., Brennan, S. E., Ellis, S., Hartmann-Boyce, J., Ryan, R., Shepperd, S., Thomas, J., Welch, V., & Thomson, H. (2020). Synthesis without meta-analysis (SWiM) in systematic reviews: Reporting guideline. BMJ, 368, l6890. doi:10.1136/bmj.l6890
Hoaglin DC, Hawkins N, Jansen JP, Scott DA, Itzler R, Cappelleri JC, et al. Conducting indirect-treatment-comparison and network-meta-analysis studies: Report of the ISPOR Task Force on Indirect Treatment Comparisons Good Research Practices: Part 2. Value Health. 2011;14(4):429-37.
Due to a large influx of requests, there may be an extended wait time for librarian support on knowledge syntheses.
Find a librarian in your subject area to help you with your knowledge synthesis project.