Skip to Main Content

Sport Science and Human Performance: PRISMA flow diagrams

A one-stop-shop of resources for Sport Sciences

Steps of a PRISMA diagram

  1. These can be MeSH search terms (PubMed database) or other subject headings, truncation, and/or wildcards, and apply all your limits. Check out the advanced searching tips for more searching help.
  2.  Enter this information in the top left box of the PRISMA flow chart. You should add the total number of combined results from all databases (including duplicates) after the equal sign where it says Databases (n=). Many researchers also add notations in the box for the number of results from each database search, for example, Pubmed (n=335), Embase (n= 600), and so on.
  3. Export your articles to Zotero.


Records identified from databases or registers


Step 3: Duplicates 

  1. Your main aim is to avoid duplication
    1. Remove all articles that appear more than once in your results.
    2. You may want to export the entire list of articles from each database to a citation manager like Zotero (including both citation and abstract in your file) and remove the duplicates there.
    3. If you are using Covidence or Rev Man for your review, you should also add the duplicate articles identified in Covidence to the citation manager number.  Enter the number of records removed as duplicates in the second box on your PRISMA template.


Records removed before screening: duplicates, automation tool exclusions, or other reasons

Step 4: Title/Abstract Screening The next step is to add the number of articles that you will screen. This should be the number of records identified minus the number of duplicates removed from the box.


Number of records screened in Title/Abstract level


Step 5: Exclusions 

  • Include articles that appear to help you provide an answer to your research question.
  • Also, record the number of articles excluded through title/abstract screening in the box to the right, titled "Records excluded."  You can optionally add exclusion reasons at this level, but they are not required until the full-text screening.


Records excluded after title & abstract screening


Step 6: Full-text articles: This is the number of articles you obtain in preparation for full-text screening. Subtract the number of excluded records (Step 5) from the total number screened (Step 4) and this will be your number sought for retrieval.


Reports sought for retrieval

Step 7: Non-full text articles: List the number of articles for which you are unable to find the full text.  


Reports not retrived

Step 8: Assessed eligibility of full-text articles:  This should be the number of reports sought for retrieval (Step 6) minus the number of reports not retrieved (Step 7). Review the full text for these articles to assess their eligibility for inclusion in your systematic review. 



Reports assessed for eligibility


Step 9: Excluded articles: After reviewing all articles for eligibility, enter the total number of articles you exclude in the box titled "Reports excluded," and then list your reasons for excluding the articles as well as the number of records excluded for each reason.  


Reports excluded, including reason for exclusion and number


Step 10: Included articles: The final step is to subtract the number of records excluded during the eligibility review of full-texts (Step 9) from the total number of articles reviewed for eligibility (Step 8). Enter this number in the box labeled "Studies included in the review," combining numbers with your grey literature search results in this box if needed.  You have now completed your PRISMA flow diagram.


Studies included in review

 For more information check out

An app to develop a PRISMA Statement: Use this link to get an app that creates your diagram for you.


What’s the PRISMA flow diagram all about?

PRISMA and Covidence

Contact Us

City Campus
(07) 834 8866
(07) 834 8800 ext 4452