Frequently Asked Questions

What type of synthesis should I be doing?

There are a range of synthesis that can be used to assess and contextualize evidence determined by the type of question, sources of evidence needed, timeline and budget. The Knowledge Translation Program at Saint Michael's Hospital has developed a tool to provide guidance on selection methods for knowledge synthesis of quantitative studies:

The following articles are also helpful starting points for understanding the different types of knowledge synthesis methods:

  • Kaster, M., Antony, J., Soobiah, C., Straus, S. E., & Tricco, A. C. (2016). Conceptual recommendations for selecting the most appropriate knowledge synthesis method to answer research questions related to complex evidence. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 73, 43-49.
  • Mallidou, A. (2014). Mapping the landscape of knowledge synthesis. Nursing Management, 21(5), 30-39.

We are happy to consult on questions about selecting a review method.

What differentiates the HRI KS Centre's process from other evidence review programs?

There are knowledgeable and skilled teams across the country supporting and conducting knowledge syntheses. While some centres have taken an approach to contextualize or tailor knowledge to different organizational or geographic contexts, the approach to contextualization is not always well described, and there appears to be a gap in northern and rural settings, such as northern BC. 

The context of northern BC provides unique challenges and opportunities for planning and delivering health services. We work with our health partners at each step of the evidence review process to ensure the questions, approach, and synthesis of findings responds to the evidence needs in the context of northern BC. Working in partnership throughout each stage ensures the knowledge syntheses produced provide actionable recommendations for knowledge users. Knowledge syntheses also inform new areas for health research that is attentive to the needs to realities of northern British Columbians.

What is a review software?

A review software is a program or interface that supports the completion of a review by streamlining the steps of screening, data extraction and reporting. Typically, references are uploaded from the database search and forms are used to screen (determine what is included and excluded), appraise quality, extract data, and assist in reporting. They are a useful tool for project management and tracking.

Do I need to use a review software to conduct a review?

No, this is up to you. However, using a review software supports:

  1. consistency,
  2. collaboration,
  3. oversight, and
  4. can reduce the time needed to complete the review.

The biggest benefit of using a software is transparency - our team uses DistillerSR a systematic literature review software developed by Evidence Partners, an Ottawa based company. This program makes it easier to track and manage every reference, every change, and how an article flows through review from import to screening and extraction. This is important if you will be publishing your review and if you will need to update a review in the future. DistillerSR also generates useful outputs automatically like PRISMA diagrams and Kappa statistics.

Why did you choose DistillerSR?

Our team completed an environmental scan of available review software. This scan looked at services provided, functionality, pricing, and access. After testing several options, our team chose DistillerSR due to its flexibility and ease of use. While designed for systematic reviews, the customizable nature makes it ideal for all types of reviews as the forms and workflow is 100% customizable for each project.

How much does DistillerSR cost? How are costs recovered?

Traditional DistillerSR licenses cost $75 + tax per month for a faculty member or staff, and $30 + tax per student. Our institutional license allows us to support larger teams at a lower cost. If you have questions about pricing please reach out to us. Costs are recovered directly from your research project fund.

What happens to my DistillerSR project once it is complete? Can you upload them again and will it maintain its existing references and analysis?

When projects are complete, our team exports all data from DistillerSR - this includes all references, data from all levels (screening and extraction), and PRISMA diagrams. This is provided to the Academic Lead and stored on the UNBC G: drive. Projects are then archived in DistillerSR. This means that Evidence Partners support archives the project by removing it from our "active" project list. All the data is available and if we need it to be re-added as an active project at a later date they just re-activate it.

Will I have control of my project? Administrative privileges?

As an Academic Lead you have full control over your project and your team. One of the benefits is being able to monitor the project progress on your main dashboard and monitor user reports to know how long your team is spending on each reference at each stage. As the Lead you will be able to assign users within your project and modify their permissions. However, you will not be able to add a new project or add/edit users. Our KS Research Associates, who have access to all projects, can assist with project set-up, user access, and troubleshooting.

Is the HRI "institutional" DistillerSR License right for my team?

This depends on your teams needs and ultimately, we recommend you reach out to our team for a quick conversation. To help, we have created the following comparison. Generally, the HRI institutional license is best for teams working on a single project, large teams, or teams who need rapid access to DistillerSR. If you are a small team (e.g. 1 faculty and 1 student) with many projects, it might not be best for you.

Traditional License(s) HRI Institutional License
What's the difference? Limited to individual licenses with 25 projects Unlimited users with a set number of projects
Best for small team working on many projects
  • Large teams (3+)
  • Teams only working on 1-2 projects
  • Teams that need rapid access
Pricing $75 per academic and/or staff user per month. $30 per student per month $100 per team per month with a sliding scale for each additional project
Purchasing Online purchasing is not currently available for Academic or Student Pro subscriptions. Purchasing needs to go through UNBC Purchasing office after receiving a quote from Evidence Partners Immediate access via HRI with signed service agreement. Do not need to wait to go through purchasing process
Timing Must know length of license to receive quote from Evidence Partners Flexible options for length of use based on need
Number of projects provided Up to 25 1 (with option to add more at sliding scale rate)
Training & support

Self-serve support

  • Online user guide
  • Video tutorials
  • Distiller Help Forum

Evidence Partners Email Support

On-site support

  • Support from our KS team to train you team and get your project set-up
  • HRI KS Research Associate support for troubleshooting

Self-serve support

  • Online user guide
  • Video tutorials
  • Distiller Help Forum

Evidence Partners Email Support

How do I access the HRI Distiller License?

Contact the HRI KS Centre by email