Background: Systematic reviews are a key part of healthcare evaluation. They involve important painstaking but repetitive work. A major producer of systematic reviews, the Cochrane Collaboration, employs Review Manager (RevMan) programme—a software which assists reviewers and produces XML-structured files. This paper describes an add-on programme (RevManHAL) which helps auto-generate the abstract, results and discussion sections of RevMan-generated reviews in multiple languages. The paper also describes future developments for RevManHAL.
Methods: RevManHAL was created in Java using NetBeans by a programmer working full time for 2 months.
Results: The resulting open-source programme uses editable phrase banks to envelop text/numbers from within the prepared RevMan file in formatted readable text of a chosen language. In this way, considerable parts of the review’s ‘abstract’, ‘results’ and ‘discussion’ sections are created and a phrase added to ‘acknowledgements’.
Conclusion: RevManHAL’s output needs to be checked by reviewers, but already, from our experience within the Cochrane Schizophrenia Group (200 maintained reviews, 900 reviewers), RevManHAL has saved much time which is better employed thinking about the meaning of the data rather than restating them. Many more functions will become possible as review writing becomes increasingly automated.
Torres Torres, M., & Adams, C. E. (2017). RevManHAL: towards automatic text generation in systematic reviews. Systematic Reviews, 6(1), https://doi.org/10.1186/s13643-017-0421-y