EPPI-Reviewer 4 is a web-based software program for managing and analysing data in literature reviews. It has been developed for all types of systematic review (meta-analysis, framework synthesis, thematic synthesis etc) but also has features that would be useful in any literature review. It manages references, stores PDF files and facilitates qualitative and quantitative analyses such as meta-analysis and thematic synthesis. It also contains some new ‘text mining’ technology which is promising to make systematic reviewing more efficient.
EPPI-Reviewer has been developed to support the EPPI-Centre’s programme of work over the past 15 years in conducting, and supporting others to undertake, systematic reviews across a wide range of public policy areas. We have found that policymakers ask questions that precede (e.g. “what might work?”; “what is feasible?”; “what are people’s needs?”) as well as questions that go beyond effectiveness (e.g. “why did / didn’t this work?”; “how does it work?”; “under what circumstances does this apply?”; “is it acceptable / appropriate?”). Answering these questions adequately requires that reviews incorporate a broad range of research, since we need the studies that assess the balance of benefit and harm attributable to an intervention to be accompanied by studies that have the explanatory power to answer the ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions. To this end, we developed tools and methods for synthesising a wide range of research and the functionality contained in EPPI-Reviewer 4 supports this breadth of reviewing.
We have also found that a ‘two-stage’ review process is useful in helping us to bridge the gap between evidence and policy. In the first stage of a review, we often undertake a broad search and apply ‘keywords’ to the studies that meet our broad inclusion criteria. We take the results of this process – a descriptive ‘map’ of research activity – to consultations with our stakeholders in order to identify the areas of interest to them for us to examine in-depth in the second stage of the review. The second stage may consist of statistical analyses – meta-analysis etc – or more thematic approaches, such as thematic synthesis or meta-ethnography. EPPI-Reviewer supports all of these phases by providing tools that enable us to describe research activity as well as a wide range of functions for synthesising study findings.
A flyer describing EPPI-Reviewer 4 is available here.
Finally, it should be noted that EPPI-Reviewer is a ‘not for profit’ service which we make available to support people doing systematic reviews. We are not a private company but rather a research unit at the Institute of Education, University of London. The fees that we charge are a contribution to our costs for infrastructure, development and support of the software.
The only requirement is that the computer must be able to run Silverlight 5 and be connected to the internet.
For optimum performance we would suggest:
- Computer: PC or Mac
- Silverlight 5+ (latest version preferable)
- Supported OS: Windows XP (or newer) or Mac OS 10+
- On a PC: Internet Explorer 8+ ; Firefox 3+
- On a Mac: Safari, Firefox
- Chrome will not work as Microsoft Silverlight does not support Google Chrome
Broadband internet connection: > 1Mb/sec
Citing EPPI-Reviewer 4
Thomas J, Brunton J, Graziosi S (2010) EPPI-Reviewer 4: software for research synthesis. EPPI-Centre Software. London: Social Science Research Unit, UCL Institute of Education.