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Knowledge Syntheses: A How-To Guide

Overview of systematic review steps and resources to assist researchers conducting reviews

References, References Everywhere!

The thorough nature of systematic reviews means that they involve the use of a lot of references, often numbering in the thousands. "But how," you may ask despairingly, "will I ever be able to keep track of all those references?" Luckily, you have a wealth of reference management options at your disposal, most prominently in the form of reference manager software. Dalhousie currently offers RefWorks to its students and faculty, but there are many other options - some free to the public - that may be better suited to your needs.


After completing your searches in all of your team's chosen databases, there will be a number of duplicates - studies that appear in more than one database. It is important to remove these studies from the group in a process known as deduplication. Many reference management programs include a deduplication tool. WARNING: Do not delete duplicates! You must maintain an accurate record of the number of studies at each phase of the review process. Instead, move duplicates to a separate folder for safekeeping. More information about deduplication can be found in this guide:

Reference Management Tips and Guides

Reference Management Software

Systematic Review Management Software

Review management software tools are specifically tailored to the needs of knowledge synthesis teams. In addition to reference management, some of these tools can also help with data extraction, perform meta-analysis, track team progress, and facilitate communication between members. As indicated below, some of these tools are fee-based. You should also bear in mind that not every tool is appropriate for every kind of synthesis or review - be sure to choose the right fit for your project.