A Review of JBI SUMARI: A Systematic Review Tool
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Shalu Gillum, JD, MLS, AHIP
Head of Public Services
Harriet F. Ginsburg Health Sciences Library
University of Central Florida College of Medicine


JBI SUMARI from the Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) is an online software tool for systematic reviews. The Joanna Briggs Institute is an international nonprofit research and development organization from the University of Adelaide, South Australia.1 SUMARI, which stands for System for the Unified Management, Assessment and Review of Information, is designed to help researchers and health practitioners with the entire systematic review process, from creating the protocol, selecting studies for inclusion, critical appraisal of included studies, data extraction, and synthesis.1 SUMARI allows users to conduct 10 different types of systematic reviews, including qualitative, economic evaluations, prevalence/incidence, etiology/risk, umbrella/overview, text/opinion, diagnostic test accuracy, effectiveness review, and scoping reviews.1 It also allows users to combine review types within one project and create custom reviews.         

Subscriptions and Access

SUMARI is available through individual or institutional subscription, either directly from the Joanna Briggs Institute or from the JBI suite of resources through the Wolters Kluwer Ovid platform. Logging in can be a little confusing depending on how one subscribes to SUMARI. On either platform, users must create a new personal account with user name and password. After logging in to SUMARI on the Ovid platform, the login page reloads, and users might think they need to log in again, or that logging in was unsuccessful. However, users should click on the green “EBP Network / Ovid” button to continue to SUMARI.    

Features and Functionality

Once logged in, users are brought to a homepage or dashboard, where they can create a new project or systematic review. The SUMARI dashboard is simple and pleasing to the eye. Here users will find a listing all of their projects. Within a project, there are links to each stage of a systematic review to help guide users through the process. These include Protocol, Studies, Appraisal, Extraction, Synthesis, and Review. An Overview tab shows users the status of a particular project, including the number of studies, how many have been appraised, and what data has been extracted. A useful feature is that once a review type is chosen – for example, an effectiveness review – the protocol fields are preselected for that review type to help populate the protocol. Another convenient feature is that this protocol can then be exported to a Word document. As a project owner, a user can invite other individuals as contributors to a review, but all contributors must have a paid subscription to JBI SUMARI. In SUMARI, the majority of the steps in a systematic review are accomplished by clicking on large buttons or typing text into fillable boxes, greatly simplifying the process.

Also on the dashboard are links to Help/FAQ, Tutorials, and a Reviewer’s manual (not to be confused with a user manual for SUMARI, this is a manual on conducting systematic reviews using JBI methodology). Help/FAQ is a link to a “Knowledge Base” including frequently asked questions and other tips for using SUMARI. Several short video tutorials are available under the Tutorials link, which are quite helpful in guiding users through SUMARI.

Since SUMARI is web based, there is no offline option, but no software needs to be installed. According to the JBI SUMARI Knowledge Base, some internet browsers work better with SUMARI than others, such as Google Chrome or Firefox, and some features of SUMARI may not work with Internet Explorer or Safari.2

Studies can be imported into SUMARI in either XML or RIS format, or manually by entering all relevant data into fillable boxes. A list of studies can be exported as a Word document. SUMARI is a self-described reference management tool1, but it would be more useful in this regard if it allowed for de-duplication of citations, which it currently does not. Users are better off importing citations into a standalone reference manager such as EndNote or RefWorks, removing duplicates, and then exporting to an XML or RIS file that can be imported into SUMARI.

Another important part of the systematic review process that SUMARI does not allow for is title and abstract screening. According to the Knowledge Base, JBI has partnered with systematic review software Covidence3 for title and abstract screening. How this works is not clear, but it appears that users would need a paid subscription to Covidence to accomplish this.


The best feature of JBI SUMARI is its simplicity. A simple but aesthetically pleasing dashboard, easy-to-follow tabs, large clickable buttons, and fillable boxes all serve to guide users through a systematic review from protocol to synthesis. For users embarking on their first systematic review, JBI SUMARI takes the guesswork out of the systematic review process.


  1. Joanna Briggs Institute. About. 2019. http://www.jbisumari.org/#about Accessed May 15, 2019.
  2. Joanna Briggs Institute. Basics of JBI SUMARI. 2019. https://wiki.joannabriggs.org/display/SKB/Basics+of+JBI+SUMARI#expand-AccessthroughJBI Accessed May 15, 2019.
  3. Joanna Briggs Institute. Selecting your studies. 2019. https://wiki.joannabriggs.org/display/SKB/Selecting+your+studies#expand-DoesJBISUMARIsupportstudyscreening Accessed May 15, 2019.
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