gms | German Medical Science

G-I-N Conference 2012

Guidelines International Network

22.08 - 25.08.2012, Berlin

A collaborative web application for the early stages of an evidence review

Meeting Abstract

  • N. Bromham - National Collaborating Centre for Cancer, Cardiff, UK
  • M. Schmidt-Hansen - National Collaborating Centre for Cancer, Cardiff, UK
  • S. O'Connell

Guidelines International Network. G-I-N Conference 2012. Berlin, 22.-25.08.2012. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2012. DocP084

doi: 10.3205/12gin196, urn:nbn:de:0183-12gin1965

Published: July 10, 2012

© 2012 Bromham et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.



Background: A critical early step in any systematic review is screening by multiple reviewers of the studies identified in literature searches. It is important to document decisions on screening and eligibility and review management tools can help in this process.

Objectives: We found that existing review management software was limited by cost or restrictions in use. Our objective was to develop a tool for the initial screening stages of a review.

Methods: We implemented our tool as a web application using the open source content management system Drupal. We tailored modules to allow users to create a collaborative review group (with associated bibliography and documents) and to invite collaborators to join their group via e-mail. Import of bibliographies was done by uploading a reference file in standard format. Custom modules added features for study screening and eligibility judgements. Informal usability tests were then done by a group of three reviewers.

Results: Initial tests led to simplification of the user interface and addition of extra features: the option to screen a random sample of studies, keyword highlighting and a selection list of exclusion reasons. We also extended the original specification to include discussion forums, learning materials and event calendars – with the option to restrict any of these to collaborative groups.

Discussion: A web application like this could aid collaboration on projects. We aim to make a publicly accessible version.