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Gerstein Science Information Centre

Knowledge syntheses: Systematic & Scoping Reviews, and other review types

Data extraction forms

The next step after completing the second stage of screening is for the researchers to read the full text of each article identified for inclusion in the review and extract the pertinent data using a standardized data extraction/coding form. The data extraction form should be as long or as short as necessary and can be coded for computer analysis if desired.

If you are writing a narrative review to summarise information reported in a small number of studies then you probably don't need to go to the trouble of coding the data variables for computer analysis but instead summarize the information from the data extraction forms for the included studies.

If you are conducting an analytical review with a meta-analysis to compare data outcomes from several clinical trials you may wish to computerize the data collection and analysis processes. Reviewers can use fillable forms to collect and code data reported in the studies included in the review, the data can then be uploaded to analytical computer software such as Excel or SPSS for statistical analysis. GW School of Medicine, School of Public Health, and School of Nursing faculty, staff, and students can use the various statistical analytical software in the Himmelfarb Library, and watch online training videos from LinkedIn Learning at the Talent@GW website to learn about how to perform statistical analysis with Excel and SPSS.

*Our librarians do not provide consultations on data extraction, however we're happy to provide you with the information and resources below.

Software for data extraction forms

The table below provides some software to help you create coded data extraction forms using templates.

Software Developer Subscription  Description & Functions
DistillerSR Evidence Partners Yes

Automates the review process using AI and intelligent workflows.

Functions include: searching, screening, full-text retrieval, data extraction, reporting and audit. Strong focus on project management.

EPPI-Reviewer EPPI-Centre Yes, one-month free trial available

Web-based, compatible with mobile devices. Used for all types of literature reviews, small and large scale reviews.

Functions include: Managing references and data analysis (qualitative and quantitative) in literature reviews. Contains text mining feature.


Web-based repository of systematic review data.

Functions include: data extraction, management, and archival for the systematic review process. Includes a training environment, tutorials, and example templates of systematic review data extraction forms.

If you prefer to design your own coded data extraction form from scratch, Elamin et al. (2009) offer advice on how to decide what electronic tools to use to extract data for analytical reviews.

Designing data extraction forms

The process of designing a coded data extraction form and codebook are described in Brown, Upchurch & Acton (2003) and Brown et al (2013). You should assign a unique identifying number to each variable field so they can be programmed into fillable form fields in whatever software you decide to use for data extraction/collection.

The table below provides some software to help you design data extraction forms using templates.

Software Developer Subscription Description & Functions
SRDR+ tool AHRQ Yes

Web-based repository of systematic review data.

Includes example templates of systematic review data extraction forms.

Qualtrics Survey Qualtrics Yes, free account option

Online survey software.

Includes pre-built survey templates, question types, and built-in intelligence.

REDCap REDCap Consortium Partners Yes, one week trial

Web application for building and managing online surveys and databases.

Includes offline and online work modes, multi-site access, and fully customizable options. Available in multiple languages.

Survey Monkey SurveyMonkey Yes, free account option

Online survey platform.

Creates surveys, gathers feedback, analysis features, and provides insights.

You may choose to design and create your own coded fillable forms using Adobe Acrobat Pro or Microsoft Access. You might also like to include on the data extraction form a field for grading the quality of the study, see the reporting the quality/risk of bias for examples of some of the quality scales you might choose to apply.


Three examples of data extraction forms are below:   

Data Extraction Form Example (suitable for small-scale literature review of a few dozen studies)
Data Extraction Form for the Cochrane Review Group (uncoded & used to extract fine-detail/many variables)
Coded data extraction form 
Fillable form fields that can be computerized for data analysis. See Table 1 of Brown, Upchurch & Acton (2013)