Have you tried to do something in MetaReviewer and encountered the dreaded red error message? Have you scoured the user guide for a solution and came up empty? Or are you simply curious about whether an idea you have is possible, but want confirmation before you pursue it full throttle? If so, there's no need to figure things out on your own! Sending an email to metareviewer@air.org will connect you to a MetaReviewer team member with a scary commitment to being helpful.


Our Help Desk team is full of experienced synthesists, who either helped build MetaReviewer or who have become exceptionally good at breaking it. They wrote the user guide, (reluctantly) recorded the tutorials, and know the software and common missteps like the backs of their hands. They'll be able to answer most questions you have quickly without needing too much additional information.

That said, every week a user submits a request that stumps the Help Desk team--usually because the user has found a bug that the team hasn't yet encountered. These kinds of help requests are among our favorites because they help us build a better product! However, they can take a little more time to resolve, for a variety of reasons outside of the user's control. But one thing a user can do to help expedite the process is provide key information in their initial help request.

Submitting a helpful help request

The best help requests are the ones that are most descriptive. The more information you can provide about what you experience and how it different from what you hoped to experience, the better! Ideally, a help request for an issue or suggested feature should include:

  • Your project name,
  • The web browser you were using when you encountered the issue,
  • The steps that you took,
  • What you expected to happen after taking those steps,
  • What actually happened when you took those steps, and
  • Any screenshots you have of the error received or issue encountered (these are especially helpful).

Not every issue will need to have each of these bullet points covered. Expected outcomes might be obvious enough that you can exclude them from your request, as you will see in the example below. We do encourage you, however, to try and address each bullet point above. Articulating the steps you took might feel tedious, but they help the Help Desk Team replicate the problem much faster, resulting in the issue being resolved faster.

An example of a helpful request

Hi MR Help Desk!

I've encountered the following issue and am requesting support.

Project name: My very special project

Browser: Chrome


  1. From my project page, clicked on "Manage coding forms and view responses."
  2. Clicked "View responses" from the coding form titled "VSP - Full text screening."
  3. Clicked "Download."

I expected to see a successful download but instead my responses failed to download and I received an error. On top of that, the Download button is stuck on a "spinning circle" mode, so it looks like it is still doing work in the background. I couldn't grab a screenshot of the error message, but here is what I saw on my page:

Screenshot (218)


A User at Their Wit's End

Our commitment to User at Their Wit's End (and others like them) is to provide a response as fast as possible. That means an immediate reply confirming receipt and a plan within 1-2 business days for investigating and resolving the issue(s) as soon as we can.

So please don't hesitate to reach out to us! We've internalized that our value is determined by our ability to be useful to others and it's shocking how few synthesis needs our friends and loved ones have.