How To Do a Systematic Literature Review with DeepDyve

A systematic literature review provides a comprehensive summary of literature available on a particular topic. It shows that a research team understands the existing body of work, and it is not only a crucial step in research, but can be legally required by regulatory agencies. The European Union’s Medical Device Regulation, for example, has very detailed guidelines on what kinds of literature and information has to be provided at each step in research. But whether it is legally mandated or not, research disciplines throughout STM and social sciences often include a thorough review of literature.

Systematic literature reviews can present several challenges to researchers:

  1. Making sure that the search is sufficiently broad
  2. Finding a budget-friendly way to access articles
  3. Organizing and tracking which articles have been reviewed, which are to be included in the review, which are to be excluded, and why

In addition to a full-text collection of over 25M articles, DeepDyve’s Digital Library has several other tools that can help research organizations conduct their systematic literature reviews.

Step 1. Create your folders

Many researchers use folders to organize their literature by topic, but you can also use them to organize by stage of workflow:

  • Folders for inclusion and exclusion; subfolders for reasons for exclusion
  • Folders for purpose of the search
  • Folders for different reviewers so the work can be easily split up

Step 2. Begin your search

Enter your search terms into the search bar and move papers you want to review into a folder:

You can use the left bar to filter and order your results by time and by whether they are in our full-text collection. We also have an advanced search function to help you further refine your results: 

Step 3. Check other search resources

You can execute your search with one click on both PubMed and Google Scholar. DeepDyve has a Chrome plugin that shows you which articles are in our full-text collection, but even papers that are not available may be moved into your folders so that everything is organized in one place:

You can also start your search on either of those search engines if that is your preferred workflow.

Step 4. Assign papers to a reviewer

If there are multiple people on your team reviewing papers, you can create a folder with their name on it and add articles there. Adding papers to a new folder doesn’t remove them from the original folder; papers may be in as many folders as you like:

Share the folder with the assigned reviewer and anyone else you would like to have access to the folder:

Step 5. Review documents in DeepDyve’s reader

As you review your folder contents, everything that is available in DeepDyve’s full-text collection is marked. Click on an article to see it in the DeepDyve reader:

Step 6. Use text search and annotations to speed your review

Use the text search function in the upper right-hand corner of the reader to quickly search for key phrases:

Use the annotation tools to highlight passages and make notes so you can keep track of comments and thoughts on each paper:

Step 7. Place papers in inclusion and exclusion folders

Placing papers you want to include in your review into an inclusion folder is obviously important:

But if you are working in a regulated industry, you may also have to include what papers have been excluded from your review, along with why:

Step 8. Remove the reviewed papers from the review folder

After a paper has been reviewed, click the link that removes it from the reviewer’s folder. Because papers can live in multiple folders at once, this doesn’t remove it permanently (unless it is in only that one folder).

Step 9. Download citations

When your review is finished you may wish to have a list of all the papers in a particular folder. To do this click on the folder and then on “Download Citations”. This will provide a text file with the citation data for every paper in the folder. You can select different citation styles or even export them to Endnote. 

To see all this in one place, see our video below: