7.5.2  Electronic versus paper data collection forms

The decision between data collection using paper forms and data collection using electronic forms is largely down to review authors’ preferences. Potential advantages of paper forms include:


Potential advantages of electronic forms include:


Electronic systems have been developed that offer most of the advantages of both approaches (including the commercial SRS software: see www.trialstat.com). If review authors plan to develop their own electronic forms using spreadsheet or database programs, we recommend that (i) a paper form is designed first, and piloted using more than one author and several study reports; (ii) the data entry is structured in a logical manner with coding of responses as consistent and straightforward as possible; (iii) compatibility of output with RevMan is checked; and (iv) mechanisms are considered for recording, assessing and correcting data entry errors.