Systematic Reviews: Screening

This guide provides information and resources which may be helpful when undertaking a systematic review or other type of knowledge synthesis.

Screening Process

"' as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth'" by 'The Wanderer's Eye Photography' is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0


Screening is a time-consuming two-part process to determine which citations meet the team's eligibility criteria and should be included in the review.  To reduce bias, a minimum of two reviewers typically screen the search results and resolve areas of disagreement by consensus or a third tie-breaker team member who is a content expert. A number of online tools, such as Covidence, exist to facilitate the process.

1) Title/Abstract Screening

  • Each title/abstract is examined to remove irrelevant material based on eligibility criteria.

2)  Full Text Screening

  • Full text documents are retrieved and screened to determine whether studies fit eligibility criteria. Reasons should be provided why studies were excluded.


Consult Cochrane Interactive Learning Module 4: Selecting Studies and Collecting Data for further information.  *Please note you will need to register for a Cochrane account while initially on the Mayo network. You'll receive an email message containing a link to create a password and activate your account.*

References & Recommended Reading

1.           Lefebvre C, Glanville J, Briscoe S, et al. Searching for and selecting studies. In: Higgins J, Thomas J, Chandler J, et al, eds. Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions. version 6.2 ed. Cochrane; 2021:chap Chapter 4.
See - Section 4.6: Selecting studies 

2.             Polanin JR, Pigott TD, Espelage DL, Grotpeter JK. Best practice guidelines for abstract screening large‐evidence systematic reviews and meta‐analyses. Research Synthesis Methods. 2019;10(3):330-342.

3.            Gates A, Guitard S, Pillay J, Elliott SA, Dyson MP, Newton AS, Hartling L. Performance and usability of machine learning for screening in systematic reviews: a comparative evaluation of three tools. Syst Rev. 2019 Nov 15;8(1):278. doi: 10.1186/s13643-019-1222-2. PMID: 31727150; PMCID: PMC6857345.