I love setting up coding forms.

- No one, ever

No one gets out of bed to create a coding form. Although coding forms provide a useful structure that enables the fun parts of a systematic review or meta-analysis, in isolation, creating them is not a fun task. And if there's one thing we're committed to at MetaReviewer, it's reducing the amount of time you have to spend on annoying meta-analysis tasks (and if there’s a second thing, it’s using these blog posts to share all the potential MetaReviewer mottos that ended up on the cutting room floor).

In the spirit of that commitment, this post is dedicated to highlighting one of MetaReviewer’s time saving features: coding form templates. These templates are ready to load into MetaReviewer and will give you a solid starting point for your coding form. You’ll likely still want to personalize your coding form beyond that starting point, but you won’t have to spend time programming original, cutting-edge questions like “how big was the sample?” and “what is the name of the outcome measure?”

You can access the coding form templates one of two ways: either using the project setup wizard, or by selecting “Create coding form” on your project portal page.

How to create a coding form

You’ll be asked four questions about your project concerning the types of studies and kinds of participants you plan to synthesize. These questions will help us determine which template is best suited to your project. For instance, if you know that your synthesis will only focus on adult samples, we won’t bother giving you a template with questions about the grade levels of participants.

Narrowing your coding form questions

Not feeling prepared to answer these questions or they don’t seem to fit your synthesis well? We recommend one of two tactics. First, it may be helpful to just start with the “saturated” template. The saturated template includes all possible items across all templates. It is much easier to delete questions from a coding form than it is to add them. So if you’re not sure where to start, beginning with the saturated template and narrowing questions from there might be your best bet. The saturated template can be accessed from the instructions page of any template (or by answering both or I’m not sure yet to the four screening questions).

Answering "I'm not sure yet" will increase the number of questions in your template

A second strategy is to upload multiple templates into your project and then select your starting point. There is no limit to the number of templates you can download from MetaReviewer or upload to your project. Since the templates are designed to seamlessly load into MetaReviewer, the time cost of adding multiple templates to your project is mainly determined by the speed with which you can answer four multiple choice questions. If you’re between multiple answers on some of the project setup questions, it may be easiest to answer the project setup questions multiple times, upload the resulting templates, and then select your preferred starting point after viewing the coding forms within your project. You can easily delete or archive whichever form(s) you choose not to use.

How to delete or archive a coding form

We hope you find these coding form templates useful! More importantly, though, we hope you use them. It will make the poor members of our team who made the templates feel like their efforts to create 36 different versions of the same coding form were well spent.