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Guide to the DMP Assistant Template for Systematic Review Projects

Companion guide to the Portage DMP Assistant Template for Systematic Review Projects


The purpose of this guide is to provide additional guidance and examples for creating a data management plan for your systematic review (or other knowledge synthesis) project using Canada's DMP Assistant template for Systematic Reviews (English version) (French version)

For more information on general research data management see our Research Data Management Guide.

This guide has been organized to match the sections in the DMP Assistant template for Systematic Reviews to make it easy to locate the relevant guidance as you fill out each section of the template:

1) Data collection 

2) Documentation and metadata

3) Storage and backup

4) Preservation 

5) Sharing & reuse

Within each of these sections, guidance and examples may be broken down according to stage of the systematic review process including: 1) the planning phase (including protocol creation), 2) location of studies, 3) study selection, 4) data extraction and risk of bias assessment, 5) synthesis (both narrative and/or meta-analysis) and 6) manuscript preparation.

What is data?

According to NNLM, “Data used for research can be defined as the recorded factual material that is commonly accepted in the scientific community as information that is required to validate research findings.” 

For a systematic review (or other knowledge synthesis reviews), data would include the literature you find, the data that you extract from it, and detailed methods, processes and information that would be needed for someone else to be able to reproduce your results.

Existing tools such as reporting standards/checklists may help with planning and describing your data management:

  • PRISMA-P for systematic review protocols requires you to specify: which databases you’ll search, present a draft search strategy, report your inclusion/exclusion criteria, as well as procedures for all stages of your review. This information can be included in various sections of the DMP.

  • PRISMA-S is an extension to the PRISMA Statement for reporting literature searches, and provides an indication of what data need to be managed with regard to search strategies.

  • The main PRISMA Statement and any extensions can be found at

The Systematic Review Process

The Cochrane Collaboration defines systematic reviews as follows: "A systematic review attempts to identify, appraise and synthesize all the empirical evidence that meets pre-specified eligibility criteria to answer a specific research question. Researchers conducting systematic reviews use explicit, systematic methods that are selected with a view aimed at minimizing bias, to produce more reliable findings to inform decision making."

Rights to this Material

Guide to the DMP Assistant Template for Systematic Review Projects © 2021 by Zahra Premji and Heather Ganshorn is licensed under CC BY 4.0