Module 3: Organizing, Managing and Screening Sources

Documenting Your Selection Process and Addressing Bias for Systematic Reviews

As noted in Module 2, you will be expected to document your search process and your selection process. The PRISMA flow diagram will help you map out the number of records identified, included and excluded, and the reasons for exclusions.

Key Takeaways

Save a copy of the PRISMA Flow Diagram (PDF)for your own review.

Addressing Bias in Selecting Sources for Systematic Reviews

Selection bias can happen consciously or unconsciously to a reviewer when selecting sources. Bias can appear in how and why we  make decisions on the potential eligibility or ineligibility of a study. This is why using a team approach is one method to reduce bias in selecting sources for systematic reviews. Another is to make sure each reviewer has a clear understanding of the key concepts, or inclusion and exclusion criteria. For example, has the team checked to ensure everyone has the same understanding of the key concepts in their research question and what to include and exclude? This way, everyone goes into selecting with the same understanding.

Learning Activity

Your group is planning on using the following criteria. What bias or misinterpretation issues might be present within each one?

Key Takeaways

Screening your citations and abstracts against your inclusion and exclusion criteria is the first step in identifying suitable studies. If you are conducting a systematic review, it is important to reduce selection bias by having a blind team based approach to screening.


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Advanced Research Skills: Conducting Literature and Systematic Reviews Copyright © 2021 by Kelly Dermody; Cecile Farnum; Daniel Jakubek; Jo-Anne Petropoulos; Jane Schmidt; and Reece Steinberg is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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