Tool tip #17: Tools for a literature review or systematic review

Published on
May 16, 2023

Planning to do a systematic review or an extensive literature review? There are tools to help you with screening and selecting publications. In this article, we’ll discuss two free tools that can help you with reviewing.

Systematic reviews and extensive literature reviews require comprehensive and systematic searching in multiple bibliographic databases, like Scopus, PubMed, and Food Science & Technology Abstracts. After the search phase, you need to evaluate and select studies. Both phases are laborious. Web-based software tools speed up screening and selecting studies and can save you a lot of time.

Licensed and free tools

Several tools have been developed for systematic review. Some tools require a license, like EPPI Reviewer and Covidence. Fees depend on the number of reviewers and the time you want to make use of the tool. Free tools are available as well, like ASReview Lab and Rayyan. All these tools allow collaboration with other researchers as reviews can be shared.

How to start

You can upload references to these tools from bibliographic databases. However, to follow best practices, first export all references from your database searches to EndNote or other reference management software and deduplicate your references before importing the unique references into the reviewing tool.

ASReview Lab

Utrecht University has developed AS Review Lab. This tool uses active learning techniques and learns from your decisions on the inclusion or exclusion of publications. Based on your decisions, the non-evaluated publications are continuously ranked from most to least relevant, and if desired you can stop screening if you do not expect to identify any more relevant publications in your uploaded set. You keep full control of your decisions and can also decide to screen the full set.


Rayyan also uses artificial intelligence to help you with reviewing. You can label individual references with reasons for inclusion or exclusion or other useful terms related to the topic, population, or geography.


Do you need help or more information? Library information specialists can help you with your literature review or systematic review. Please e-mail the ServiceDesk.

In the series of Tool tips, Library staff review handy research tools. Think of tools that can help you with publishing your research, accessing literature, and managing data. Interested in other tool tips? You can find them on the right-side of this page. Please let us know if you have a research tool that others might find handy.