Artificial intelligence in systematic reviews: promising when appropriately used

Sanne H B van Dijk, Marjolein G J Brusse-Keizer, Charlotte C Bucsán, Job van der Palen, Carine J M Doggen, Anke Lenferink*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
61 Downloads (Pure)


BACKGROUND: Systematic reviews provide a structured overview of the available evidence in medical-scientific research. However, due to the increasing medical-scientific research output, it is a time-consuming task to conduct systematic reviews. To accelerate this process, artificial intelligence (AI) can be used in the review process. In this communication paper, we suggest how to conduct a transparent and reliable systematic review using the AI tool 'ASReview' in the title and abstract screening. METHODS: Use of the AI tool consisted of several steps. First, the tool required training of its algorithm with several prelabelled articles prior to screening. Next, using a researcher-in-the-loop algorithm, the AI tool proposed the article with the highest probability of being relevant. The reviewer then decided on relevancy of each article proposed. This process was continued until the stopping criterion was reached. All articles labelled relevant by the reviewer were screened on full text. RESULTS: Considerations to ensure methodological quality when using AI in systematic reviews included: the choice of whether to use AI, the need of both deduplication and checking for inter-reviewer agreement, how to choose a stopping criterion and the quality of reporting. Using the tool in our review resulted in much time saved: only 23% of the articles were assessed by the reviewer. CONCLUSION: The AI tool is a promising innovation for the current systematic reviewing practice, as long as it is appropriately used and methodological quality can be assured. PROSPERO REGISTRATION NUMBER: CRD42022283952.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere072254
Number of pages6
JournalBMJ open
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jul 2023


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