Background: A systematic review (SR) and meta-analysis are a long, solid and explicit process used to assess the best available evidence and summarize it in order to answer a specific question. Some steps are necessary to elaborate a systematic review such as searching for studies, selecting studies, collecting data, assessing risk of bias, synthesizing the results, summarizing the findings and reaching conclusions. Those steps take a long time because of the number of studies included. Some useful software programs have become valuable tools to help researchers to produce more systematic reviews and meta-analysis.
Objectives: Comparative assessment of software available on the internet in describing differences and recognizing similarities for creation and management of SRs and meta-analyses.
Methods: We have been searching for software programs for preparing and maintaining SRs and meta-analyses on the internet (Google and blogs about SRs). We included 22 programs and describe their differences based on available information from their websites and user guides.
Results: The software programs we found were RevMan (Cochrane's Review Manager), DistillerSR, Covidence, Rayyan, EPPI (Evidence for Policy and Practice Information) REVIEWR 4, EROS (Early Review Organising Software), SRDR (Systematic Review Data Repository), SUMARI (System for the Unified Management, Assessment and Review of Information), Mendeley, Abstrackr, OpenMeta, Excel Workbook SR, Import.io, Metafor, EndNote, GradePro, Comprehensive Meta-analysis, Meta-analysis made easy, CRS (Cochrane Register of Studies), Stata and Lyonsmorris. Most programs are in English, free, import and export search results, and can be used online. Some of them perform quality assessment, data extraction and final decisions to include and exclude studies. Not all have a comprehensive guide to the process of conducting meta-analysis.
Conclusions: Some software programs that help make the SR and meta-analysis process easier and faster can be found on the internet. However, all reviewers must follow the steps required to conduct a good SR and meta-analysis.