Create a project

To start reviewing a dataset with ASReview LAB, you first need to create a project. The project will contain your dataset, settings, labeling decisions, and machine learning models. You can choose from three different project types: Oracle, Exploration, and Simulation. The project setup consists of 4 steps: Project information, Data, Model, and Warm up. The sections below explain each of the steps of the setup.

To create a project:

  1. Start ASReview LAB.
  2. Go to the Projects dashboard if you are not already there (http://localhost:5000/projects)
  3. Click on the Create on the bottom left

Project information

In this step of the project setup, step 1, you provide all relevant information about your project as well as the type of project you want (the mode). The sections below provide more information on the input fields. After you complete this step, click next.

Project modes

In this step, you have to select a mode. The default is “Oracle”. Most users are looking for this one. Oracle mode is used to screen an unlabeled dataset (it’s fine if you already have some labels) with the help of AI. The other two modes, Simulation, and Exploration require fully labeled datasets. They are useful for experts studying the performance of active learning or demonstrating the workings of active learning and ASReview.

In short:

  • You have an unlabeled dataset (a few labels is fine) -> Oracle
  • You have a Fully labeled data -> Simulation or Exploration.
Project modes

Project details

Provide project details like name of the project, authors (for example, the name of the screener), and a description. You can edit these values later in the Details page.


In this step of the project setup, step 1, you import a dataset and select prior knowledge. Read Prepare your data for information about dataset formats. Prior knowledge is used to come up with a first sorting of the dataset.

Add Dataset

Click on Add to select a dataset. The data needs to adhere to a specific format. You will benefit most from what active learning has to offer with High quality data.

Depending on the Project mode, you are offered the following options for adding a dataset. Keep in mind that in Oracle mode, your dataset is unlabeled or Partially labeled data. For Exploration and Simulation mode, you need Fully labeled data.


You will benefit most from what active learning has to offer with High quality data.

From File

Drag and drop your file or select your file. Click on Save on the top right.

From URL

Use a link to a dataset on the Internet. For example, a link from this dataset repository. Click on Save on the top right.

From Extension

Oracle and Exploration only. Select a file available via an extension. Click on Save on the top right.

Benchmark Datasets

Simulation and Exploration only. Select one of the Benchmark Datasets. Click on Save on the top right.

Select Prior Knowledge

The first iteration of the active learning cycle requires prior knowledge to work. This knowledge is used to train the first model. In this step, you need to provide at least one relevant and one irrelevant record in your dataset. To facilitate this, it is possible to search within your dataset. This is especially useful for finding records that are relevant based on your prior knowledge or expertise. You can also let ASReview LAB present you a couple of random documents. This can be useful for finding irrelevant records.

The interface works as follows; on the left, you will see methods to find records to use as prior knowledge, on the right, you will see your selected prior knowledge. If you have at least one relevant and one irrelevant record, you can click Close and go to the next step.

ASReview prior knowledge selector


You also need to provide at least one prior irrelevant document. You can do this by searching it, but this can be challenging as you don’t know what you are looking for. One way to find an irrelevant document is by labeling a set of random records from the dataset. Given that the majority of records in the dataset are irrelevant (extremely imbalanced data problem), the records presented here are likely to be irrelevant for your study. Click on random to show a few random records. Indicate for each document whether it is relevant or irrelevant.

ASReview prior knowledge random

The prior knowledge will now show up on the right. Use the buttons to see all prior knowledge or irrelevant items. There are no restrictions on the number of publications you provide but preferably provide 1-5 relevant records. If you are done, click Close.

After labeling a couple of randomly selected records, ASReview LAB will ask you whether you want to stop. Click on STOP and click Next.


In the next step of the setup, you can select a model. The default settings (Naïve Bayes, TF-IDF, Max) have fast and excellent performance. Most users can skip this step and click Next.

Select model (advanced)

It is possible to change the settings of the Active learning model. There are four ingredients that can be changed in the software: the type of classifier, the query strategy, balance strategy, and the feature extraction technique.

The classifier is the machine learning model used to compute the relevance scores. The available classifiers are Naive Bayes, Support Vector Machine, Logistic Regression, and Random Forest. More classifiers can be selected via the API. The default is Naive Bayes, though relatively simplistic, it seems to work quite well on a wide range of datasets.

The query strategy determines which document is shown after the model has computed the relevance scores. The three options are: certainty-based, mixed and random. When certainty-based is selected, the documents are shown in the order of relevance score. The document most likely to be relevant is shown first. When mixed is selected, the next document will be selected certainty-based 95% of the time, and randomly chosen otherwise. When random is selected, documents are shown in a random order (ignoring the model output completely). Warning: selecting this option means your review is not going to be accelerated by using ASReview.

The feature extraction technique determines the method how text is translated into a vector that can be used by the classifier. The default is TF-IDF (Term Frequency-Inverse Document Frequency) from SKLearn. It works well in combination with Naive Bayes and other fast training models. Another option is Doc2Vec provided by the gensim package which needs to be installed manually. To use it, install the gensim package manually:

pip install gensim

It takes relatively long to create a feature matrix with this method. However, this only has to be done once per simulation/review. The upside of this method is the dimension-reduction that generally takes place, which makes the modeling quicker.

During the screening phase, it is not possible to change the model. However, it is possible to select a first model, screen part of the data, and export the dataset with the labeling decisions of the first model. This partly-labeled dataset can be imported into a new project and the labels based on the first model will be recognized as prior knowledge. Then, a second model can be trained on the partly-labeled data, and the new predictions will be based on the second model.

Warm up

In the last step of the setup, step 4, ASReview LAB trains a model and ranks the records in your dataset. Depending on the model and the size of your dataset, this can take a couple of minutes (or even longer). After the project is successfully initialized, you can start reviewing.


In Simulation mode, this step starts the simulation. As simulations usually take longer to complete, the simulation will run in the background. After a couple of seconds, you will see a message and a button “Got it”. You will navigate to the Analytics page, where you can follow the progress (see Refresh button on the top right)

ASReview LAB warmup