Background: Systematic reviews are labor-intensive and many overlap in the literature reviewed.
Objectives: To describe the challenges involved in creating a repository for reusable extracted data.
Methods: Web-based electronic data extraction tool and repository.
Results: The availability of a freely accessible Web-based repository of systematic review data will minimize the unnecessary replication of effort where the details of the studies have already been previously extracted. Additional benefits include: a promotion of transparency and reliability in the systematic review process, enhanced cooperation and utility across related resources, a more efficient means of producing and updating systematic reviews, quick and simultaneous access to related reviews, and improved access to detailed information on review evidence by various stakeholders. The following requirements guided our development of this system: 1) ease of use with a low burden of contribution; 2) flexible and adaptable to all manners of research questions, and 3) interoperable with other existing systematic review databases. The repository’s Web interface would serve both as an archive and data extraction tool. Technical challenges included designing a Web-based system that balances ease of use with the availability of additional features, like importing and exporting data in different formats. Non-technical challenges primarily concerned development of governance and data quality assurance processes. A panel of technical experts knowledgeable in trial registries, databases, systematic review methodologies, and/or bioinformatics was convened to help address these issues. Pilot tests are underway to refine this system.
Conclusions: A number of technical and non-technical issues need to be solved in implementing a data repository. The success of such an archive requires close collaboration with stakeholders to create a resource that researchers want to use and that encourages participation.