Need Help with Including Non-English Language (NEL) Studies in Systematic Reviews?

9 min readJan 30
Medical Translation Services for Systematic Reviews

Note: In the Systematic Review context, Americans use Data Abstraction instead of Data Extraction. In Scoping Review context, it may be called Data Charting; however, Social and Health Scientists sometimes use Data Extraction and Data Charting interchangeably.

I’m not going to discuss why it is important to include Non-English Language (NEL) studies language, but if you are interested here you can find a summary. In this post, I will discuss the factors to consider when deciding to include and deal with NEL studies. The big mistake is that the systematic reviewers forget to include how they would deal with NEL studies in their protocol. I rarely see a systematic review protocol mentioning a proper protocol for dealing with NEL. They usually mention whether they will include NEL or not. They don’t even have a budget or consider it in their Gantt chart time-wise. The trouble starts later!

Rasmussen et al. 2018 reported that “the most frequently mentioned challenge to including non-English studies was a lack of resources (funding and time) followed by a lack of language resources (e.g. professional translators).

There are a lot of discussions on how to deal with Non-English Language (NEL) studies in systematic reviews. The short answer is: With No Discrimination!

I hope the answer saves you time not to read the rest of this post, but if you are still curious, please read on :)

Routine Data Extraction Process in Systematic Reviews

Systematic reviews require at least a team of three researchers or reviewers because the following stages of the systematic reviews require between 2–3 people depending on the systematic review’s protocol:

  1. Screening the records
  2. Screening the reports
  3. Screening the studies
  4. Extracting data
  5. Entering data

If we need two reviewers to screen the English records, reports, and studies and to double-check data extraction and data entry, we ideally would need…


An Evidence Scientist with a Pinch of Career and Life Lessons