The EPPI-Reviewer database system contains a copy of the OpenAlex dataset. Similar to Google Scholar, OpenAlex aims to be a comprehensive repository of the World’s research and currently contains more than 200 million records. Unlike Google Scholar, it is possible to obtain a copy of the dataset; a copy that is updated every few weeks. OpenAlex launched in January 2022 to replace Microsoft Academic, that was withdrawn from service at the end of 2021.
The availability of a comprehensive, regularly updated, repository of research is extremely useful for systematic reviewers in three ways. First, given its comprehensive nature, it probably contains all, or nearly all, the studies that are likely to be relevant for almost any systematic review, thus reducing the number of sources that reviewers need to search. Boolean searches can be carried out to identify studies that might be relevant in new reviews. Second, when some relevant studies have already been located, connections in the graph of publications can be used to locate other studies that are ‘close’ to the studies already known to be of interest. This feature can be used to bring a review up to date and also for citation chasing – where reviewers check bibliographies of known records for other eligible studies. Finally, as the dataset is updated regularly, it can be used as a way of keeping existing systematic reviews up to date, supporting ‘living’ review workflows. The challenge facing both use scenarios – and not an inconsiderable one! – is how to distinguish the records of interest from the vast majority of other (irrelevant) records. We are therefore releasing a set of tools within EPPI-Reviewer that will enable reviewers to access the OpenAlex dataset and evaluate its utility in their specific reviews. This is to be considered “work in progress”, with the aim being to support research and development, rather than necessarily being ready for use in all reviews.
These pages outline how the new features in EPPI-Reviewer can be used in all three scenarios. This should be considered ‘Beta’ software, and we welcome feedback on how it performs in different situations, and how it might be improved.
In order to begin to use these features in EPPI-Reviewer, click the 'update review' button on the home page. If you don't have this button and would like to try out these features, please contact support to enable them for you on a specific review.
You can download a pdf version of this guidance here.
Download the slides from the above webinar here.