Human capital and monetary resources are spent conducting systematic reviews. At the same time, there has been strong momentum towards promoting open science and data sharing. Technology can help us realize these ideals and improve the efficiency of the systematic review enterprise. A particularly inefficient systematic review step is data extraction from primary studies. Data extraction can be improved, for both producers and users of systematic reviews, through a data system that is robust, user-friendly, and amenable to sharing.
To address this need, the Systematic Review Data Repository (SRDR) was developed by the Tufts University Evidence-based Practice Center (EPC), under contract with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), and launched on June 12, 2012. Through this initial effort, AHRQ established SRDR - a freely available web-based tool for conducting systematic reviews; a governance board (PDF, 560 KB) to provide input on future directions for the effort; and data management policies.
In 2019, the Brown University EPC launched an updated version of SRDR. This version, called SRDR+, is a free, online, collaborative system for extracting and archiving study data during systematic reviews. To our knowledge, this is the only system of its kind that is free to anyone around the world. We therefore consider SRDR+ to be a community resource. Improvements in this updated platform included a revamp of its underlying code for faster page loading and saving; facilitation of outcome definitions consistent with those in clinicaltrials.gov; and the data comparison tool to compare and flag discrepancies in data extraction. Future directions for SRDR+ include the application of standards to enhance interoperability of SRDR+ with external software applications.
SRDR+ isn't just a tool for organizing a systematic review's data extraction process. SRDR+ also functions as a repository of previously-extracted data. As of February 2022, the data extracted in more than 200 systematic reviews (for more than 20,000 primary studies) have been made public. This means that future systematic review teams working on similar topics can reduce countless hours spent on data extraction by re-using these data. This resource is especially valuable for teams conducting updates of systematic reviews.
SRDR+ also allows users of systematic reviews, such as guideline developers, policy-makers, patients, and the general public, to access study data that might be relevant to their decision-making processes. This data include summary results from systematic review projects that can be accessed using a feature of SRDR+ called SR360. A list of systematic review projects with data that are publicly available through SRDR+ can be found here.
Saldanha IJ, Smith BT, Ntzani E, et al. The Systematic Review Data Repository (SRDR): descriptive characteristics of publicly available data and opportunities for research. Syst Rev. 2019 Dec. 20;8(1):334. doi: 10.1186/s13643-019-1250-y. PMID: 31862012.