How to complete a full Systematic Review in 2 weeks rather than 1 year

 Before every great breakthrough there’s a dream or a vision. And one of the dreams of Chief Investigator Professor Paul Glasziou was to undertake systematic reviews in 2-weeks. Why, you might ask? Traditionally, systematic reviews have taken, on average, 67 weeks to complete. This has limited their usefulness in situations where urgent healthcare and health policy decisions need to be made – but not only, as over 67 weeks, organisational priorities may have changed, research priorities have moved on, and the results of the review may have lost their impact.

The healthcare impact

In healthcare, this presents a real challenge as clinicians rely on timely and evidence-based information and clinical decision support tools on which to base their diagnosis and care plan for patients. For patients and clinicians, this means that while they are receiving the best care at the time, there may be more relevant information available that could improve the care they receive or change it completely. For policy makers, access to better, faster, high-quality evidence allows them to develop policy guidance and systems that are more flexible and adaptive to the changing needs of the population and government priorities.

The challenge

After four years of developing new tools and methods, in 2019, the SRA team attempted their first full systematic review, completed using standard systematic review methodology, in only 2 weeks.

The outcome

The attempt was successful: the first 2weekSR (two-week systematic review) went from question to completed report in just 9 working days. Four elements contributed to this success: (i) use of a systematic reviewer team with complementary skills, (ii) protected time to work on the project, (iii) use of ‘scrum’ (agile) methodology, and (iv) the use of several systematic review automation tools (many of which had been previously developed in-house as part of the Systematic Review Accelerator).

The award-winning methodology for conducting 2weekSRs and the automation tools used are freely available for anyone to use – as a deliberate policy to facilitate uptake. Read the full paper.

Accessing the tools

Systematic Review Accelerator, which includes the individual tools to accelerate completion of the various systematic review steps, as well as the videos and help guides:

Other systematic review automation tools: Systematic Review ToolBox

The benefits of using the Systemic Review Accelerator

The Accelerator comes with a whole range of tools which can be applied to any systematic review (and many other types of reviews). For example:

  • Tools to assist with the search strategy design and execution: Word Frequency Analyser, Search Refiner (a collaboration with the University of Queensland), Polyglot Search Translator (translates search strings across databases)
  • Robot Search (external tool): Assists in screening out non-RCTs
  • Screenatron: allows for rapid screening
  • Disputatron: detects disputes in include/exclude decisions and facilitates their resolution
  • RevMan Replicant: Writes a draft systematic review results section and saves you time to produce a journal submission.

How you can support this work

We welcome your feedback on the Systemic Review Accelerator and our tools. The team are constantly refining the tools and adding new ones. If you’d like to support our work further, we’d like to hear from you. Contact

About Paul Glasziou

Professor Paul Glasziou is Professor of Evidence-Based Medicine at Bond University, Director of the Institute for Evidence-Based Healthcare and a part-time General Practitioner. Previously he was the Director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine in Oxford from 2003-2010. He and his team’s work focuses on four big neglected problems in healthcare: antibiotic resistance, overdiagnosis, neglected non-pharmaceutical treatments, and waste in research.

Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash