Your goals in this step are to establish:
Not all of the articles identified in your search will be relevant to your review. You must identify criteria to help you decide what studies to keep (inclusion criteria) and what studies to leave out (exclusion criteria).
Note that these are the same type of inclusion/exclusion criteria that would be listed in a review protocol.
Examples of common screening criteria:
Articles chosen to be included or excluded should be consistent across all reviewers. Pilot screening can help clarify any confusions and to ensure that all reviewers understand teh selection criteria.
A screening team should include at least two reviewers. This is important to reducing the risk of selection bias and will consequently increase the rigor of your review.
These three details should be included in the manuscript of your review. Specifically, remember to indicate how many reviewers were involved in screening, the details involved in piloting a screen (if piloting was conducted), and also, how disagreements were resolved between reviewers.
You will need to create a form that is based on the inclusion/exclusion criteria that the screeners can use to document their responses.
A screening form may be used in a spreadsheet, but you may also consider using one of the following examples of screening tools: