Data Extraction

Data Extraction

Whether you plan to perform a meta-analysis or not, you will need to establish a regimented approach to extracting data. Researchers often use a form or table to capture the data they will then summarize or analyze. The amount and types of data you collect, as well as the number of collaborators who will be extracting it, will dictate which extraction tools are best for your project. Programs like Excel or Google Spreadsheets may be the best option for smaller or more straightforward projects, while systematic review software platforms can provide more robust support for larger or more complicated data.

It is recommended that you pilot your data extraction tool, especially if you will code your data, to determine if fields should be added or clarified, or if the review team needs guidance in collecting and coding data.

Data Extraction Tools

Data Extraction Tools


Excel is the most basic tool for the management of the screening and data extraction stages of the systematic review process. Customized workbooks and spreadsheets can be designed for the review process. A more advanced approach to using Excel for this purpose is the PIECES approach, designed by a librarian at Texas A&M. The PIECES workbook is downloadable at this guide.


Covidence is a software platform built specifically for managing each step of a systematic review project, including data extraction. Read more about how Covidence can help you customize extraction tables and export your extracted data.  


RevMan is free software used to manage Cochrane reviews. For more information on RevMan, including an explanation of how it may be used to extract and analyze data, watch Introduction to RevMan - a guided tour.


SRDR (Systematic Review Data Repository) is a Web-based tool for the extraction and management of data for systematic review or meta-analysis. It is also an open and searchable archive of systematic reviews and their data. Access the help page for more information.


DistillerSR is a systematic review management software program, similar to Covidence. It guides reviewers in creating project-specific forms, extracting, and analyzing data. 


JBI Sumari (the Joanna Briggs Institute System for the United Management, Assessment and Review of Information) is a systematic review software platform geared toward fields such as health, social sciences, and humanities. Among the other steps of a review project, it facilitates data extraction and data synthesis. View their short introductions to data extraction and analysis for more information.

The Systematic Review Toolbox

The SR Toolbox is a community-driven, searchable, web-based catalogue of tools that support the systematic review process across multiple domains. Use the advanced search option to restrict to tools specific to data extraction. 

Additional Information

Additional Information

These resources offer additional information and examples of data extraction forms:‚Äč

Brown, S. A., Upchurch, S. L., & Acton, G. J. (2003). A framework for developing a coding scheme for meta-analysis. Western Journal of Nursing Research25(2), 205–222.

Elamin, M. B., Flynn, D. N., Bassler, D., Briel, M., Alonso-Coello, P., Karanicolas, P. J., … Montori, V. M. (2009). Choice of data extraction tools for systematic reviews depends on resources and review complexity. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology62(5), 506–510.

Higgins, J.P.T., & Deeks, J.J. (Eds.) (2011). Chapter 7: Selecting studies and collecting data. In J.P.T.Higgins, & S. Green (Eds.), Cochrane handbook for systematic reviews of interventions Version 5.1.0 (updated March 2011). The Cochrane Collaboration. Available from

Research guide from the George Washington University Himmelfarb Health Sciences Library: