Martin Westgate

Science Advisor
Atlas of Living Australia

Visiting Fellow
Fenner School of Environment & Society
Australian National University

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EviAtlas: a tool for visualising evidence synthesis databases.

NR Haddaway, A Feierman, MJ Grainger, CT Gray, E Tanriver-Ayder, S Dhaubanjar & MJ Westgate (2019) Environmental Evidence 10.1186/s13750-019-0167-1

First published 2019-06-04


Systematic mapping assesses the nature of an evidence base, answering how much evidence exists on a particular topic. Perhaps the most useful outputs of a systematic map are an interactive database of studies and their meta-data, along with visualisations of this database. Despite the rapid increase in systematic mapping as an evidence synthesis method, there is currently a lack of Open Source software for producing interactive visualisations of systematic map databases. In April 2018, as attendees at and coordinators of the first ever Evidence Synthesis Hackathon in Stockholm, we decided to address this issue by developing an R-based tool called EviAtlas, an Open Access (i.e. free to use) and Open Source (i.e. software code is freely accessible and reproducible) tool for producing interactive, attractive tables and figures that summarise the evidence base. Here, we present our tool which includes the ability to generate vital visualisations for systematic maps and reviews as follows: a complete data table; a spatially explicit geographical information system (Evidence Atlas); Heat Maps that cross-tabulate two or more variables and display the number of studies belonging to multiple categories; and standard descriptive plots showing the nature of the evidence base, for example the number of studies published per year or number of studies per country. We believe that EviAtlas will provide a stimulus for the development of other exciting tools to facilitate evidence synthesis.

Article attributes

Theme: evidence_synthesis
Type: methods