How to structure Microsoft Excel documents for systematic reviews
Evidence and practice    

How to structure Microsoft Excel documents for systematic reviews

Lea Godino Genetic nurse and research nurse, IRCCS Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria di Bologna, Bologna, Italy

Why you should read this article:
  • To appreciate the use of Microsoft Excel for systematic reviews

  • To increase your awareness of all the steps of a systematic review, including importing references and documents, plus documenting the whole process, including intermediate results

  • To learn how to create transparent and complete reports for systematic reviews

Background Systematic reviews are complex and involve time-consuming, deep research in the academic literature to search, extract data, assess their quality and report the results. Digital tools and software have been developed to simplify different phases of this process but some of these are not free to use. Microsoft Excel is typically accessible to a great many researchers free of charge, so using it involves no further costs.

Aim To explain how to use Microsoft Excel to create transparent and complete reports for systematic reviews.

Discussion The author’s method includes six steps: downloading the references, preparing worksheets, removing any duplicate references, screening the references by title and abstract, screening the full text of references, and listing the articles for inclusion in the review.

Conclusion The Excel method is efficient and free and can produce transparent and complete reports of systematic reviews. It is a valid alternative to the systematic reviews produced by advanced tools and software.

Implications for practice The documents produced by this method are a good source for the direct production of scientific texts.

Nurse Researcher. doi: 10.7748/nr.2023.e1866

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software


Conflict of interest

None declared

Godino L (2023) How to structure Microsoft Excel documents for systematic reviews. Nurse Researcher. doi: 10.7748/nr.2023.e1866


The author would like to thank her colleagues and students at the University of Bologna for their interest in this method, as well as the people who encouraged her to write this article

Published online: 01 March 2023

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