The value of a second reviewer for study selection in systematic reviews

Carolyn R.T. Stoll, Sonya Izadi, Susan Fowler, Paige Green, Jerry Suls, Graham A. Colditz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Although dual independent review of search results by two reviewers is generally recommended for systematic reviews, there are not consistent recommendations regarding the timing of the use of the second reviewer. This study compared the use of a complete dual review approach, with two reviewers in both the title/abstract screening stage and the full-text screening stage, as compared with a limited dual review approach, with two reviewers only in the full-text stage. Methods: This study was performed within the context of a large systematic review. Two reviewers performed a complete dual review of 15 000 search results and a limited dual review of 15 000 search results. The number of relevant studies mistakenly excluded by highly experienced reviewers in the complete dual review was compared with the number mistakenly excluded during the full-text stage of the limited dual review. Results: In the complete dual review approach, an additional 6.6% to 9.1% of eligible studies were identified during the title/abstract stage by using two reviewers, and an additional 6.6% to 11.9% of eligible studies were identified during the full-text stage by using two reviewers. In the limited dual review approach, an additional 4.4% to 5.3% of eligible studies were identified with the use of two reviewers. Conclusions: Using a second reviewer throughout the entire study screening process can increase the number of relevant studies identified for use in a systematic review. Systematic review performers should consider using a complete dual review process to ensure all relevant studies are included in their review.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)539-545
Number of pages7
JournalResearch Synthesis Methods
Volume10
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

Keywords

  • eligibility screening
  • review methods
  • search strategy
  • study selection

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