How to use and evaluate OpenAlex tools for efficient automated updating of systematic reviews and maps in EPPI-Reviewer


  • Information retrieval
Date and Location


Tuesday 5 September 2023 - 16:00 to 17:30


Contact persons and facilitators

Contact person:


Shemilt I1, Thomas J1, Graziosi S1
1 EPPI Centre, University College London, United Kingdom


Tenti P1
1 University of Milan-Bicocca, Italy
Target audience

Target audience: 

Information specialists, review authors and anyone else interested in automated study identification tools for efficient updating of systematic reviews.

Level of difficulty: 

Type of workshop

Type of workshop : 



Background: Keeping on top of new evidence is a perennial challenge. Systematic reviews can quickly become out of date, and maintaining surveillance of new evidence can be resource intensive and costly. For example, identifying new eligible studies for updating systematic reviews and maps of research—including those that have been transitioned to using a ‘living reviews’ approach—conventionally involves running updated Boolean searches across multiple electronic databases and manual screening of all retrieved unique records. However, new tools and technologies are beginning to address this challenge. First, the OpenAlex dataset—an open access, continually updated dataset and knowledge graph comprising more than 250 million records of research articles from across science—can be considered a ‘one stop shop’ for published research in many topic areas, reducing the need to search many, or sometimes any, subscription databases. Second, the scope of a review can be ‘learned’ by machine learning algorithms, facilitating efficient identification of eligible studies from within large datasets. OpenAlex tools in EPPI-Reviewer make use of these important enablers to support efficient updating of systematic reviews and maps, using precise automated searches of this potentially comprehensive single source with machine learning.

Objectives: To (i) introduce OpenAlex tools in EPPI-Reviewer; (ii) learn how to use these tools to set up automated study identification workflows for updating systematic reviews or maps of research; and (iii) discuss how to evaluate the ability of these workflows to efficiently identify new research.

Description: Participants will need a laptop with wireless connectivity in order to gain practical ‘hands-on’ experience of using OpenAlex tools in EPPI-Reviewer. The workshop will cover how to use these tools to set up an example Cochrane intervention review for prospective updating via automated searches of the OpenAlex dataset. We will also demonstrate options for managing and screening records retrieved by these searches. Time will be allocated to a discussion of how these tools and methods should be evaluated. This session will be of interest to information specialists, review authors, and others interested in learning about new approaches to automate and optimise the updating process.