What is a 2weekSR?

A 2 week systematic review (2weekSR) is a full systematic review (SR) done to a high methodological standard following all the normal systematic review processes, completed in a vastly shortened time frame. The award-winning 2weekSRs combine the following elements: a team with complementary SR skills, previous SR experience, systematic review automation (SRA) tools, and agile development processes. These factors allow for the completion of an accelerated SR in extremely shortened time frames – generally in 2 weeks.

Advancing systematic reviews to the point where they can be completed in two weeks has long been a dream of Paul Glasziou, Director of the Institute for Evidence-Based Healthcare (IEBH). When he mentioned that goal again in late 2018, several members of the IEBH team felt that IEBH’s automation and methodological development programmes were sufficiently advanced to attempt to complete a full systematic review in 2 weeks (2weekSR).

Therefore, a team of four experienced systematic reviewers with complementary skills attempted to complete a 2weekSR in January 2019: an epidemiologist (Anna Mae Scott), an information specialist (Justin Clark) and two clinician-researchers (Chris Del Mar and Paul Glasziou).

A topic was chosen, the team was set loose, and the clock started ticking at 9:30am on 21 January 2019.

The final product was a full systematic review using standard methodology, completed at 12:10pm on Friday, 1 February - 9 working days (11 calendar days) later. After taking a well-earned long weekend off, the team submitted the systematic review for publication on 5 February - 14 calendar days after starting the systematic review.

The results of this methodological race against the clock were written up and published in the British Journal of General Practice (the systematic review itself), and the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology (the processes and methods paper).

A Full Systematic Review Was Completed in 2 Weeks Using Automation Tools: A Case Study


Abstract Our aim was to describe the process, facilitators, and barriers to completing the first 2-week full SR. We systematically reviewed evidence of the impact of increased fluid intake, on urinary tract infection (UTI) recurrence, in individuals at risk for UTIs. The review was conducted by experienced systematic reviewers with complementary skills (two researcher clinicians, an information specialist, and an epidemiologist), using Systematic Review Automation tools, and blocked off time for the duration of the project. The SR was completed in 61 person-hours (9 workdays; 12 calendar days); accepted version of the manuscript required 71 person-hours. In conclusion, a small and experienced team, using Systematic Review Automation tools, who have protected time to focus solely on the SR can complete a moderately sized SR in 2 weeks.

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Task no.


SR Domain

Skill needed



Lead in time



Time spent completing other work to allow SR authors to focus on the 2weekSR


SR design meetings


SR methodologist & content expert

Time spent refining the idea, determining feasibility, assembling the team, planning timelines, deciding on roles (who is responsible for oversight, coordination and documentation) and provide information on SRA tools


Daily administrative meetings


SR methodologist

Short daily meetings to review progress, discuss issues and document decisions


Formulate SR question


Content expert & SR methodologist

Final decision on the research question (PICO)


Find and review existing or upcoming SRs

Data collection

Information specialist & content expert

Search for and review existing SRs that answer the same or a similar question.


Write the SR protocol


Content expert & SR methodologist

Provide an objective, reproducible, sound methodology for the SR, then register the protocol


Obtain set of relevant studies

Data collection

Content expert & information specialist

Identify a small sample of studies relevant to the review, to aid with designing the search and data extraction form.


Design data extraction form

Data analysis

Content expert & SR methodologist

Design forms for extracting study characteristics and test their usefulness/applicability


Design systematic search strategy

Data collection

Information specialist & content expert

Design search strategy to find all relevant information (choose databases; develop search string)


Run systematic search strings

Data collection

Information specialist

Run search strings in databases, trial registries, collate results in reference management system (e.g. EndNote)


Deduplicate results

Data collection

Information specialist

Remove duplicate citations


Screen abstracts

Data selection

Content expert & SR methodologist

Screen titles and abstracts, exclude irrelevant citations, resolve disputes


Obtain full text

Data collection

Information specialist

Download full text studies, request copies from authors, interlibrary loan


Screen full text

Data selection

Content expert & SR methodologist

Screen full text of articles, exclude irrelevant citations, resolve disputes


Screen trial registries

Data selection

Content expert & SR methodologist

Based on title and text in the trial registry entry: exclude irrelevant citations, resolve disputes


Citation analysis

Data collection

Content expert & SR methodologist

Follow citations, cited and citing, from included studies to find additional relevant studies


Screen citation analysis

Data selection

Content expert & SR methodologist

Screen titles and abstracts, and full texts exclude irrelevant citations, resolve disputes


Extract data

Data analysis

Content expert & SR methodologist

Extract study characteristics and relevant outcomes


Risk of Bias assessment

Data analysis

SR methodologist

Assess the potential biases in included studies


Plan to synthesise data

Data analysis

SR methodologist & statistician

Convert extracted outcome data to common representation (usually mean and SD)


Meta-analysis or narrative synthesis

Data analysis

SR methodologist & statistician

Statistically combine the results using meta-analysis or other statistical synthesis


GRADE evidence

Data analysis

SR methodologist & statistician

Optional: rate the certainty of evidence for a treatment efficacy from high to very low


Summary of findings

Data analysis

Content expert & SR methodologist

Optional: summarise the main findings of the SR in a table


Update systematic search strategy

Data collection

Information specialist

Optional: repeat the search to find new studies published since the initial search, especially if search more than a year old


Write introduction


Content expert

Revise the introduction section from the SR protocol


Write methods


SR methodologist

Revise the methods section from the SR protocol


Write results


Content expert & SR methodologist

Write the results section of the SR


Write discussion


Content expert

Write the discussion and conclusion sections of the SR


Obtain external feedback


Some friends

Circulate to colleagues for external feedback, and take a break from the SR to allow thinking time about the manuscript


Submit manuscript


Authorship experience

Format manuscript to meet journal requirements, complete online forms and submit manuscript


Reformat and resubmit manuscript


Authorship experience

If rejected, reformat manuscript to meet new journal requirements and standards, and submit (if accepted skip this task)


Manuscript revisions


Authorship experience

Revise manuscript to respond to comments from peer reviewers, and resubmit it


Manuscript accepted


Authorship experience

Review manuscript, and copy edit any errors or issues


Manuscript published


Authorship experience

Send the details around to everyone you know, and enjoy the kudos

SRA tool

SR Step


SRA Word Frequency Analyser

Design the systematic search

Counts the number of times a word or phrase appears in a selected group of articles. Words relevant to your research question, that appear frequently, should be used in the systematic search. Link to help guide

The Search Refiner


Design the systematic search

Displays the recall (number of relevant studies found) and precision (number of irrelevant studies found) for each term in the search string. Used to quickly determine which terms may be removed from the search string.

SRA Polyglot Search Translator

Run the systematic search

Converts a PubMed or Ovid Medline search to the correct syntax to be run in other databases. Link to help guide 

SRA Deduplicator


Identifies and removes duplicate studies from database searches. Link to help guide


Screen abstracts and obtain full texts

Assists with selecting relevant studies by utilising user-defined hotkeys and super-fast browser response time to substantially improve time for include/exclude decisions to be made.


Screen abstracts and full texts

Assists with selecting relevant studies by automatically detecting include/exclude disagreements between reviewers.


Screen abstracts

Identifies and removes studies that are obviously not RCTs from a group of search results. (Marshall, 2018*).


Screen abstracts, obtain full texts and citations for SR

Used in multiple steps of the SR process to assist with reference management. Useful for storing search results, finding full texts, sorting into groups during screening and to insert references into the manuscript. (N.B. proprietary software)


Obtain full texts

Sends multiple document delivery requests to the Bond library in a single request.  Normally these requests need to be processed and sent one at a time (available within SRA).


Assess risk of bias

Provides an assessment for 4 of the 7 risk of bias domains from the Cochrane risk of bias tool and highlights the supporting phrases in the PDF of the original paper. A careful check of the assessments produced by RobotReviewer is recommended (Marshall, 2015**).

SRA RevMan Replicant


Write up SR

Writes a draft of the results section of the review from the forest plots in a RevMan file (RevMan is a program for performing meta-analyses). This draft can then be used as a start point to accurately write the results (available within SRA).

* Marshall IJ, Noel‐Storr A, Kuiper J, Thomas J, and Wallace BC, 2018. Machine learning for identifying randomized controlled trials: an evaluation and practitioner's guide. Research synthesis methods, 9(4), pp.602-614.

** Marshall, I.J., Kuiper, J. and Wallace, B.C., 2015. RobotReviewer: evaluation of a system for automatically assessing bias in clinical trials. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, 23(1), pp.193-201.

Follow us on @2weekSR for live-tweets of our 2weekSRs!

The 2weekSR author team you need

  • An experienced systematic reviewer: to be in charge of the majority of SR tasks (e.g. screening, extracting)
  • A second systematic reviewer: to work with the first reviewer on  the majority of SR tasks (e.g. screening, extracting)
  • Information specialist: to ensure a high precision search is designed and run in a fast time
  • Systematic review methodologist: to provide advice on what is needed to perform the SR to a high quality
  • Content expert: to ensure the SR is done in a way of interest to its potential user base, also to provide content specific information to the protocol and manuscript
  • Epidemiologist/Statistician: to make sure your stats are done properly




SR itself:
Scott, A.M., Clark, J., Del Mar, C. and Glasziou, P., 2020. Increased fluid intake to prevent urinary tract infections: systematic review and meta-analysis. British Journal of General Practice,  70(692), pp.e200-e207.

Processes paper:
Clark, J., Glasziou, P., Del Mar, C., Bannach-Brown, A., Stehlik, P. and Scott, A.M., 2020. A full systematic review was completed in 2 weeks using automation tools: a case study. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 121, pp.81-90.

Clark, J., Scott, A.M. and Glasziou, P., 2020. Not All Systematic Reviews Can Be Completed in 2 Weeks-But Many Can Be (And Should Be). Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, pp.S0895-4356.


Albarqouni, L., Sanders, S., Clark, J., Tikkinen, K.A. and Glasziou, P., 2021. Self-management for men with lower urinary tract symptoms: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The Annals of Family Medicine, 19(2), pp.157-167.


Albarqouni, L., Byambasuren, O., Clark, J., Scott, A.M., Looke, D. and Glasziou, P., 2020. Does Copper treating of commonly touched surfaces reduce healthcare acquired infections? A Systematic Review and meta-analysis. Journal of Hospital Infection


Byambasuren, O., Cardona, M., Bell, K., Clark, J., McLaws, M., and Glasziou, P. 2020. Estimating the extent of true asymptomatic COVID-19 and its potential for community transmission: systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMMI


Byambasuren, O., Dobler, C.C., Bell, K., Rojas, D.P., Clark, J., McLaws, M.L. and Glasziou, P., 2021. Comparison of seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infections with cumulative and imputed COVID-19 cases: systematic review. Plos one16(4), p.e0248946.


Bakhit, M., Krzyzaniak, N., Scott, A.M, Clark, J., Glasziou, P., Del Mar, C. 2021. Downsides of face masks and possible mitigation strategies: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ Open. 11:e044364.


Albarqouni, L., Moynihan, R., Clark, J., Scott, A.M., Duggan, A. and Del Mar, C., 2021. Head of bed elevation to relieve gastroesophageal reflux symptoms: a systematic review. BMC family practice, 22(1), pp.1-9.


Bakhit, M., Krzyzaniak, N., Hilder, J., Clark, J., Scott, A. and Del Mar, C., 2020. Does methenamine hippurate decrease urinary tract symptoms in community adult women: a systematic review and meta-analysis. British Journal of General Practice.


Moynihan, R., Sanders, S., Michaleff, Z.A., Scott, A.M., Clark, J., To E.J., Jones M., Kitchener, E., Fox, M., Johannson, M., Lang, E., Duggan, A., Scott, I. and Albarqouni, L., 2021. Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on utilisation of healthcare services: a systematic review. BMJ Open. 2021 Mar 16;11(3):e045343


Bakhit, M., Baillie, E., Krzyzaniak, N., van Driel, M., Clark, J., Glasziou, P., & Del Mar, C. (2021). Antibiotic prescribing for acute infections in synchronous telehealth consultations: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BJGP openhttps://doi.org/10.3399/BJGPO.2021.0106


Krzyzaniak, N., Forbes, C., Clark, J., Scott, A.M., Del Mar, C., Bakhit, M. Antibiotics versus no treatment for asymptomatic bacteriuria in aged care residents: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Accepted in the British Journal of General Practice (available online end May 2022).


Telehealth 2weekSR 

Telehealth provision of primary and allied healthcare was temporarily enabled in Australia during the COVID pandemic. In the first 12 months, over 46 million telehealth care services were delivered to Australians.

In October 2020, the IEBH team was commissioned by the Commonwealth Department of Health to conduct systematic reviews on the safety and effectiveness of the telehealth.  

We prepared 9 systematic reviews in 12 weeks (an average of 1 systematic review completed in 1.33 week, i.e., 7 workdays), on the following topics:  

  1. Telehealth vs. face-to-face delivery of care for anxiety disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis (published, J Telemed Telecare, DOI: 10.1177/1357633X211053738)
  2. Telehealth vs. face-to-face delivery of care for depression (published, Psychological Medicine, pp. 1 - 9, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0033291722002331)
  3. Telehealth vs. face-to-face delivery of care for diabetes 
  4. Telehealth vs. face-to-face delivery of care for insomnia (under review)
  5. Telehealth vs. face-to-face delivery of care for less common mental health conditions (published,  JMIR Mental Health, 9(3), e31780. DOI: 10.2196/31780)
  6. Telehealth vs. face-to-face delivery of care for musculoskeletal conditions (under review)
  7. Telehealth vs. face-to-face delivery of care for pain 
  8. Telehealth vs. face-to-face delivery of care for PTSD (published,  Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 83(4), [21r14143]. DOI: 10.4088/JCP.21r14143)
  9. Telehealth vs. face-to-face delivery of speech pathology care  (under review)

2weekSRs on Telehealth informed the decision about permanently implementing telehealth in Australia ($106M investment), increasing healthcare access for 26M Australians, especially in rural/remote areas, and has led to its widespread adoption (see: https://www.health.gov.au/ministers/the-hon-greg-hunt-mp/media/permanent-telehealth-to-strengthen-universal-medicare). 


Please click on the link below to download the template:

2 week systematic review task list

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