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Screening Studies on Full Text

The studies that remain after your initial screening by title and abstract are now ready for closer inspection to determine how relevant they are to your research question(s). This step requires at least two team members to scan the full text of the shortlisted papers to gauge how well they fit the systematic review's parameters. Hopefully, the articles were uploaded into Covidence using one of the methods discussed in the previous section, but if not, it is easy to import/upload missing papers during this phase as well.

Please note:

  • Voting is double-blind to ensure that your vote is not biased by your colleague's choice
  • Two votes to include a study are necessary to move a paper to the data extraction step

Pro Tips!

  • Discuss and agree on the meaning of the criteria used for inclusion/exclusion before starting the full-text review process
  • Each reviewer should use a different sort order when assessing papers to reduce the risk of simultaneous reviews
  • Ensure that the person responsible for adjudicating and resolving review conflicts is not one of the full-text screeners

Managing Exclusion Criteria

full text review exclusionBefore beginning the full-text review, the team must discuss and define the criteria for inclusion/exclusion to be used by the reviewers. When you vote to exclude a study you will have to select the reason why you feel this study should be excluded. Explicitly defining the Exclusion criteria is especially important since this information is included in the PRISMA diagram. 

Covidence provides two ways to manage the Exclusion criteria list.

  1. Create/Edit the list under Settings (best done before the full-text review process starts)
    • Open Setting
    • Select Criteria & exclusion reasons
    • Click the Manage exclusion reasons for full-text review
    • Add or delete criteria as appropriate
    • Sort and organize criteria as appropriate
  2. Edit the list as needed while reviewing the full text (best used if none of the existing criteria satisfy the reason to exclude)
    • Click the Exclude button
    • Select Edit this list from the dropdown
    • Enter the new reason and click the Add button (repeat as needed)
    • Click Done to return to full-text screening

Pro Tips!

  • Organize the exclusion criteria in decreasing order of priority in the dropdown menu.
    • If more than one reason to exclude applies to a study, you should pick the one closest to the top of the list
  • Screening conflicts that require adjudication and resolution can be caused by 
    • One screener voted to include a study, but the other voted to exclude it
    • Both screeners voted to exclude a study but chose different reasons


More Information on Screening Studies on Full Text

Additional information on screening studies in Covidence can be found by clicking here.

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