Improving the conduct of systematic reviews: a process mining perspective

Ba Pham, Ebrahim Bagheri, Patricia Rios, Asef Pourmasoumi, Reid Robson, Jeremiah Hwee, Wanrudee Isaranuwatchai, Nazia Darvesh, Matthew James Page, Andrea C. Tricco

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


To illustrate the use of process mining concepts, techniques, and tools to improve the systematic review process.

Study Design and Setting
We simulated review activities and step-specific methods in the process for systematic reviews conducted by one research team over 1 year to generate an event log of activities, with start/end dates, reviewer assignment by expertise, and person-hours worked. Process mining techniques were applied to the event log to “discover” process models, which allowed visual display, animation, or replay of the simulated review activities. Summary statistics were calculated for person-time and timelines. We also analyzed the social networks of team interactions.

The 12 simulated reviews included an average of 3,831 titles/abstracts (range: 1,565–6,368) and 20 studies (6–42). The average review completion time was 463 days (range: 289–629) (881 person-hours [range: 243–1,752]). The average person-hours per activity were study selection 26%, data collection 24%, report preparation 23%, and meta-analysis 17%. Social network analyses showed the organizational interaction of team members, including how they worked together to complete review tasks and to hand over tasks upon completion.

Event log and process mining can be valuable tools for research teams interested in improving and modernizing the systematic review process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-111
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Clinical Epidemiology
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018

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