Time Required to Complete a Review

Borah R, Brown AW, Capers PL, Kaiser KA. Analysis of the time and workers needed to conduct systematic reviews of medical interventions using data from the PROSPERO registry. BMJ Open. 2017 Feb 27;7(2):e012545:

  • Mean project length (project start date to review publication date) was 67.3 weeks (SD = 31.0)

Higgins J.  Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions. Second edition. Wiley-Blackwell.

  • A time chart with target dates for accomplishing key tasks can help with scheduling the time needed to complete a review
Example of a time chart for a systematic review (from Cochrane Handbook version 5.1)
Month Activity
1 - 2 Prepare protocol
2 - 3 Pilot test eligibility criteria
3 - 8 Search for published and unpublished studies
3 - 8 Inclusion assessments (screening)
3 Pilot test 'risk of bias' instrument
3 - 10 Validity (risk of bias) assessments
3 Pilot test of data collection
3 - 10 Data collection
3 - 10 Data entry
5 - 11 Follow up of missing information
8 - 10 Analysis
1 - 11 Preparation of review report
12 - ? Keeping the review up to date

Note: this timeline has been archived.

How Many Investigators Does It Take?

Borah R, Brown AW, Capers PL, Kaiser KA. Analysis of the time and workers needed to conduct systematic reviews of medical interventions using data from the PROSPERO registry. BMJ Open. 2017 Feb 27;7(2):e012545:

  • 195 completed systematic reviews had, on average, five team members