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Text mining for searching and screening the literature

This guide is intended to provide an overview of the definition and application of text mining in search strategy development and study selection; it includes a list of tools and resources that librarians or other motivated searchers may wish to try




Background resources on text mining

Suggested references

  • Maceli, M. (2016). Introduction to Text Mining with R for Information Professionals. code{4}lib Journal(33). [Available from]
  • Miner, G., Elder Iv, J., Fast, A., Hill, T., Nisbet, R., & Delen, D. (2012). Practical Text Mining and Statistical Analysis for Non-Structured Text Data Applications. Burlington: Elsevier Science.
  • Kwartler, T. (2017). Text Mining in Practice with R. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
  • Welbers, K., Van Atteveldt, W., & Benoit, K. (2017). Text Analysis in R. Communication Methods and Measures, 11(4), 245-265. doi:10.1080/19312458.2017.1387238


Background papers on text mining in knowledge syntheses

Suggested references

  • Ananiadou, S., Rea, B., Okazaki, N., Procter, R., & Thomas, J. (2009). Supporting Systematic Reviews Using Text Mining. Social Science Computer Review, 27(4), 509-523. doi:10.1177/0894439309332293
  • Pannabecker, V. (2016). Text and Data Mining for Systematic Reviews: Investigating Trends to Update Collaboration Services. [Available from]
  • Paynter, R., Banez, L. L., Berliner, E., Erinoff, E., Lege-Matsuura, J., Potter, S., & Uhl, S. (2016). EPC Methods: An Exploration of the Use of Text-Mining Software in Systematic Reviews. In AHRQ Methods for Effective Health Care. Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US). [Available from:]
    • Paynter R, Banez LL, Erinoff E, Lege-Matsuura J, Potter S. Commentary on EPC methods: An exploration of the use of text-mining software in systematic reviews. J Clin Epidemiol. 2017;84:33-6. doi:10.1016/j.jclinepi.2016.11.019
  • Stansfield, C., O'Mara-Eves, A., & Thomas, J. (2017). Text Mining for Search Term Development in Systematic Reviewing: A Discussion of Some Methods and Challenges. Research Synthesis Methods, 8(3), 355-365. doi:10.1002/jrsm.1250
  • Thomas, J., Noel-Storr, A., Marshall, I., Wallace, B., McDonald, S., Mavergames, C., . . . Elliott, J. (2017). Living Systematic Reviews: 2. Combining Human and Machine Effort. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 91, 31-37. doi:10.1016/j.jclinepi.2017.08.011

References on text mining in search strategy development

Text mining in search strategy development

Suggested references

References on text mining in screening (study selection)

Text mining in study selection/screening

In addition to the references below, you can use the following search strategy in Google Scholar to identify more literature on these and other tools (this is not a comprehensive search): 

intitle:"abstract screening"|asreview|abstrackr|"citation screening"|colandr|distillerai|distillersr|"eppi-reviewer"|rayyan|robotanalyst screening|eligibility|"study selection"|prioritization

Suggested references

  • Gartlehner, G., Wagner, G., Lux, L., Affengruber, L., Dobrescu, A., Kaminski-Hartenthaler, A., & Viswanathan, M. (2019). Assessing the Accuracy of Machine-Assisted Abstract Screening with DistillerAI: A User Study. Systematic Reviews, 8(1), 277.

  • Gates, A., Guitard, S., Pillay, J., Elliott, S. A., Dyson, M. P., Newton, A. S., & Hartling, L. (2019, Nov 15). Performance and Usability of Machine Learning for Screening in Systematic Reviews: A Comparative Evaluation of Three Tools. Systematic Reviews, 8(1), 278. 

  • Hamel, C., Hersi, M., Kelly, S. E., Tricco, A. C., Straus, S., Wells, G., Pham, B., & Hutton, B. (2021, Dec 20). Guidance for using artificial intelligence for title and abstract screening while conducting knowledge syntheses. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 21(1), 285.

  • O'Mara-Eves, A., Thomas, J., McNaught, J., Miwa, M., & Ananiadou, S. (2015). Using Text Mining for Study Identification in Systematic Reviews: A Systematic Review of Current Approaches. Systematic Reviews, 4, 5. doi:10.1186/2046-4053-4-5

  • Olorisade, B. K., Quincey, E. d., Brereton, P., & Andras, P. (2016). A Critical Analysis of Studies That Address the Use of Text Mining for Citation Screening in Systematic Reviews. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the 20th International Conference on Evaluation and Assessment in Software Engineering, Limerick, Ireland. doi:10.1145/2915970.2915982

  • Przybyla, P., Brockmeier, A. J., Kontonatsios, G., Le Pogam, M. A., McNaught, J., von Elm, E., . . . Ananiadou, S. (2018). Prioritising References for Systematic Reviews with Robotanalyst: A User Study. Research Synthesis Methods. doi:10.1002/jrsm.1311

  • van de Schoot, R., de Bruin, J., Schram, R., Zahedi, P., de Boer, J., Weijdema, F., Kramer, B., Huijts, M., Hoogerwerf, M., Ferdinands, G., Harkema, A., Willemsen, J., Ma, Y., Fang, Q., Hindriks, S., Tummers, L., & Oberski, D. L. (2021). An Open Source Machine Learning Framework for Efficient and Transparent Systematic Reviews. Nature Machine Intelligence, 3(2), 125-133. 

  • Wang, Z., Nayfeh, T., Tetzlaff, J., O’Blenis, P., & Murad, M. H. (2020). Error rates of human reviewers during abstract screening in systematic reviews. PLoS One, 15(1), e0227742.

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