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Dissertation Subject Guide

including systematic reviews, literature reviews and scoping reviews

What is data extraction?

Data extraction can be challenging. It requires you to go back to your chosen articles and highlighting the relevant information that will answer your research question. Normally this involves extracting the data related to your chosen framework and its components e.g. PICO, PEO etc. To standardise and improve the validity of the results, it's crucial to create a data extraction form or table (Bettany-Saltikov, 2012, p. 96).

Points to consider when creating data extraction form/table

If you're unsure, have a look at existing systematic reviews/literature reviews/scoping reviews on your topic to identify what information to collect. Look at their extraction tables/forms for ideas.

Data Extraction Tool

You may have read or seen some of the data extraction software available (e.g. Covidence). Unfortunately, we currently do not have any licences for this software at University of Dundee.

Alternative options include creating a table, form manually that suits your review.

Tool Benefits Limitations
Spreadsheets (Excel, Google Sheets)
  • Free options available
  • Easy to learn and use (i.e., extractors will be able to begin quickly compared to using other software)
  • Easy to customize extraction fields
  • Manually review, find, and resolve discrepancies
  • Increase in potential bias if all extractors are using or have access to the same file (e.g., issues with blinding data extracted)
  • Potential for more errors and less accuracy due to manual data entry and review
Electronic Docs (Word, Google Docs
  • Free options available
  • Easy to learn and use (i.e., extractors will be able to begin quickly compared to using other software)
  • Easy to customize extraction fields
  • Manually review, find, and resolve discrepancies
  • Increase in potential bias if all extractors are using or have access to the same file (e.g., issues with blinding data extracted)
  • Potential for more errors and less accuracy due to manual data entry and review
Cochrane RevMan
  • Free
  • Capabilities to write the entire review using this software
  • Steeper learning curve to learn new software

For more information, videos etc about Cochrane RevMan, see Cochrane Training: RevMan

Inofrmation taken from Systematic Reviews: Step 7: Extract Data from Included Studies