Numbat Systematic Review Manager

1 Overview

The source code for Numbat is available on Github.

Numbat is free software first developed by PhD student Benjamin Carlisle in 2014 for use by the STREAM research group in the Biomedical Ethics Unit at McGill University to facilitate meta-analytic work for the Animals, Humans and the Continuity of Evidence grant as well as the Signals, Safety and Success grant. This work was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (MOP 119574), and it is released as free and open-source under the GNU AGPL v 3.

It is named after the numbat, because numbats feed on termites by extracting them from their hiding places with very long and flexible tongues.

2 Purpose and limitations

2.1 What Numbat does

Numbat is a piece of software designed for managing the extraction of large volumes of data from primary sources among multiple users, and then reconciling the differences between them. It is designed for use in meta-analytic projects in an academic context.

The following are the intended uses of Numbat.

  • Manage large databases of references
  • Different levels of extraction (e.g. title-and-abstract vs full extraction)
  • Multiple extraction forms / codebooks
  • Multiple users, with an assignment manager
  • Can generate reference networks among the publications in the database

2.2 What Numbat doesn't do

  • Statistical analysis of results
  • Calculating Cohen's/Fleiss' kappa
  • Semantic analysis of papers to extract (you have to read the papers yourself)
  • Magic

3 Installation requirements

Numbat is software that you install on a web server and access through a browser, like WordPress. It is not software that you would likely install on your laptop, like Word.

You will need the following:

  • Apache
  • PHP
  • MySQL

Copy the entire file to your web server, and navigate to the Numbat directory with your browser. You will need to know your MySQL server, username and password to complete the installation.

4 How to cite Numbat

Here is a BibTeX entry for Numbat:

  Title          = {Numbat {S}ystematic {R}eview {M}anager},
  Author         = {Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory},
  Organization   = {The Grey Literature},
  Address        = {Berlin, Germany},
  url            = {},
  year           = 2014

If you use my software to complete a systematic review and you found it useful, I would take it as a kindness if you cited it.

Date: 2020-10-16

Author: Benjamin Gregory Carlisle PhD

Created: 2020-10-16 Fri 17:22