Managing review stages


DISCO’s Review Stages, our workflow offering, is a powerful tool that allows Review Managers to organize and track documents through the review process. This involves creating and prioritizing review stages, establishing parameters for reviewing documents and assigning reviewers.

DISCO Workflow was designed to simplify four (4) main tasks:

  1. Create and manage review streams including complex workflows
  2. Organize and prioritize documents for review
  3. Automate manual administrative tasks
  4. Provide valuable insight into the review through Metrics

This article will focus on tasks one (1) through three (3).  By the end of this article you will have learned how to:

  • Work in Review Stages
  • Create a Review Stage
  • Add Contents to a stage
  • Include family members and related conversations or limiting your review to Inclusive emails
  • Group and prioritize documents
  • Create your Decision Pane
  • Turn on and off options such as Tag Propagation, Copy from Previous and Predictive scores
  • Add users, set additional security and re-assign batches


How Review Stages Work

DISCO’s Review Stages are more than just a document batching system but rather a tool to help you better focus and monitor your document review.   In order to better understand how to leverage Review Stages, we will start by reviewing the fundamental concepts that govern how stages work.  We will then go into step by step detail on how to use DISCO's Review Stages attributes to optimize your review.

A Review Stage is a manner of organizing documents for review for a specific purpose. You can have multiple Review Stages. Each Review Stage is completely independent in terms of documents being marked as complete and Metrics. However, through the use of search syntax, you can have documents flow from one Review Stage to another.

Within a stage is a source. Sources are a specific set of documents to be reviewed. Sources can be prioritized within a Review Stage and the documents within each Source will deduplicate against the documents from other Sources within the same stage.

For example, you need to conduct a “1st Round Review” on a targeted set of documents collected from your client.  You set up a Review Stage called “1st Round Review”.  Within that stage, you can have one or more Sources derived from foldered documents, ad-hoc searches, and/or saved searches.  In this case, let’s say you wanted to focus on three (3) groups of documents:

  1. Any documents dated between 01/01/2001 and 01/01/2002
  2. All emails (regardless of date) where Vince Kaminski, Sara Shackleton, or Richard Sanders are the custodians
  3. All Word and PDF documents containing the terms contract(s) or agreement(s)


Each one of the above searches can be a unique Source within your “1st Round Review” stage.  While the documents within the various sources may overlap, DISCO will automatically de-duplicate those documents so your team only reviews each document once.  If you did want the same documents reviewed more than once for different purposes, you can create a separate Review Stage for each additional workflow.

You also have the option to rank the Sources which will determine the priority order for batching. Any documents existing in more than one source will be included in the highest ranking source.  Additionally, if you choose to Group your Review Stage by Source, you can add security to the Source Groups so that they can only be reviewed by designated reviewers.  

In the example above, you can rank the Sources so that any duplicate search results are contained within the Source which focuses on Emails from Kaminski, Shackleton, or Sanders.  Let’s say you only want Ann, Bob, and Charles to review these key emails.  You can set the security so that they are the only reviewers that can pull these batches of these documents for review.  For the remaining two (2) Sources, you can rank them so that documents containing the words contract(s) or agreement(s) are batched first followed by any documents from the 2000-2002 date range.  These documents can be batched out to any member of your review team. 

In addition to Review Stages offering you versatility in establishing contents and priorities, DISCO uses unique “Just-in-time” batching. Batches are generated at the moment a reviewer requests a new batch.  This tremendously reduces batch administration time and allows for Sources or priorities to be updated during the course of the review.    

The searches in the above example returned more than 200,000 documents, all of which are part of the “1st Round Review” stage but not yet placed into discrete batches.  What if you learned that your date range search was incorrect but the review has already been started?  DISCO allows you to go into the “1st Round Review” and update the date range search to start on January 1, 2000, instead of the year 2001.  Once this change is made, all new documents meeting the revised search criteria will be brought into the Review Stage.  When a reviewer checks out the next batch, they will be assigned documents that reflect the revised search criteria.  DISCO’s ability to adjust review stages and recalculate the documents being batched also plays a key role in an AI predictive prioritized review which is addressed in our AI Best Practice Paper available on request.

Once a batch is checked out, it is considered to be “materialized”.  Materialized batches will not be impacted by any changes to the Review Stage contents or prioritization.  This ensures that documents are not altered while the reviewer is conducting the review.

The last key concept to understand about Review Stages is that once you set the content, priority, and create your decision pane there is nothing more to do than monitor the review.  Reviewers will be able to check-in and check-out batches as needed.  You will be able to reassign a batch if required, but otherwise, it is not necessary to “prepare” batches of documents for your reviewers.  Again, even if you update the stage or more documents are added to the database that meets your criteria, DISCO will automatically update the Review Stage and ensure those documents are batched out.  If a reviewer checks-in an incomplete batch, DISCO will automatically rebatch any documents that are not finalized. 



Creating a Review Stage

So how do you create a Review Stage?  The Review Stage management screen can be found under Menu > Workflow > Manage Review Stages.

If there are no existing Review Stages for the database, your screen will look like this:

To create a new stage click on the Create a Stage button.  Next, you will be asked to name your stage then click the Create button. 



Review Stage Contents


Now you are ready to select your stage contents, starting with sources.  By default, DISCO will bring all documents in the database into the review stage. However, you can choose to include only discrete subsets of documents by using Sources.  You can add up to twenty (20) unique Sources to a Review Stage. 

To select a particular set of documents to review, click on the Include only documents from specific sources link.

A new Source will now appear and you will be given the opportunity to select documents based on:

  • Existing folder(s) of documents
  • An ad hoc search (with the help of traditional Search Builder and Search Examples)
  • A search from your Search History
  • Any Saved Search

You can also rename your Sources as desired.


Families, Conversations, and Inclusive Emails 

Once you have set-up your Source or Sources, you can decide whether or not to bring Family members or other members of the same Conversation into the Review Stage as well.  If Conversations are brought into the Stage, you will have the option to suppress Non-Inclusive emails that do not have attachments from your review.

While you might have a clear understanding of Families, Conversations, and Inclusive Emails, it is worth defining them again here.

  • Family - A unit of related documents made up of a Parent and one or more Children. The most common type of family is an Email (Parent) and its attachments (Children).  Each document will be its own independent record within DISCO but they remain associated.
  • Conversations - Multiple related emails made up of the replies, forwards, and resends make up a Conversation. The term Conversation or Conversation Thread is synonymous with email thread or email chain. DISCO displays these documents in context by showing the relationship between emails.
  • Inclusive Emails - Email(s) within a conversation thread that contains unique content not found within the other emails in the thread. Messages with unique content are flagged as "inclusive emails" in DISCO and this allows you to filter out emails with duplicative content. 

It is important to note that each of these options has the potential to increase the overall amount of documents you will review.  Furthermore, selecting these options will auto update the sort order of your batching automatically putting your documents in chronological order and ensures that batches contain complete families and/or conversations.

If for the purposes of your review you were told to only include complete families, you would toggle on the Include family members and DISCO would automatically update the number of documents to be reviewed and set the Order by (sort order) to Family Date.  If you were conducting a predictive prioritized review, you could choose to sort on a Predictive Tag and push the documents with the highest predictive numbers to the front of your review.  In that scenario, DISCO would still batch out complete families.  Meaning, if only one document in a family had a high ranking Predictive tag score, the whole family would be batched for review.


Grouping and Prioritizing Documents

Not only can you prioritize how documents are batched based on sort order, you can also prioritize by Group.  Under the Group section, you can choose to prioritize documents by:

  • Custodian
  • Document Type
  • Ingest Session
  • Stage Source
  • No Groups

If you choose to Group documents together, DISCO will first organize the documents based on the Group criteria and then arrange documents within that Group by sort order.  For example, let’s say you decide to Group by Custodian. Under the Group List section you will be able to click on Calculate Counts and then DISCO will show you a list of custodians in alphabetical order along with how many documents are in each custodian’s group and how many batches that translates to based on batch size selection.

Because the Group List acts as a ranking system, you can drag and drop Custodian names to prioritize how you want them batched to reviewers.  In the example stage, mentioned above, three custodians were of special importance: Vince Kaminski, Sara Shackleton, and Richard Sanders.  You can move all three to the top to ensure that they are not only batched first but that any documents that exist for a priority custodian as well as other custodians, will appear in the Group of the highest priority custodian to which they belong.

For the purpose of this example review, you are going to group by Stage Source and arrange the Sources so that they are ranked as follows:

  1. Vince, Sara, and Richard Emails
  2. Contracts or Agreements
  3. Jan 1st 2000-2002

Finally, the Batches contain section allows you to set the batch size anywhere from 10 to 5,000 documents but the DISCO default is 500.  It is important to remember that while the default and recommended size for batches is 500 if you are conducting a Predictive Prioritized review you should start by setting your batch size to something smaller such as 100 documents.  This allows DISCO to continuously batch out the next 100 highest ranking documents.


The Decision Pane

Once you have chosen the Contents of your Review Stage and hit the Save button you will be taken to the Review Decisions screen.  Here you can determine reviewers’ access to tags, tagging options, fields, and redactions.  

Here is a further breakdown of the options within the Review Decisions screen:

  • Access to Fields, Document Note, and/or Privilege Note for coding
  • Ability to add/remove redactions
  • Allow reviewers to apply tags using a Tag Box
  • Create Select One or Multiple Selection tag choices
  • Set tag propagation and/or allows reviewers to change “on the fly”
  • Ability to copy tagging decisions from a previously coded document
  • Ability to apply tags to complete conversations
  • Display Predictive Tag Scores
  • Make any action Required


Tags and Tagging Preferences

Let’s start with adding tags.  There are three (3) options for displaying tag choices within Review Stages in DISCO.

  1. Tag Box - Allows reviewers to choose one or many tags from a tag picker (similar to the tag picker in DISCO’s standard document viewer); Here, you can allow any tags available to a reviewer or select a particular set of tags.
  2. Select One Tag - Allows reviewers to select one tag from a select list of tags
  3. Select Multiple Tags - Allows reviewers to select one or more tags from a select list of tags

To start adding tags to your Decision Pane, hover over any of the tag options until the Add button appears.

Click on Add and that selection will be moved to the Decision Pane Editor area.

Once your selection is in the Decision Pane Editor you can make the following updates:

  • Label or write instructions to the reviewers
  • Select which tags you want to include in this section
  • Make the selection required

Once you have made your updates, you can click on the Checkmark icon to see how your choices will appear to the Reviewers.

You can continue to choose the select one, multiple selections, and tag box options to create the exact coding pane that meets the needs of your review.

Remember that at any point, if you want to make updates within the Decision Pane Editor, you can hover over any section and the Edit icon (Pencil) will appear.  Click on the icon and you can make changes to that section.

Not only can you group tags as needed, you can set tagging preferences for your entire team.


Here is a detailed explanation of each tagging preference: 

  • Tag Propagation - Here you can set the default for the Review Stage to one of the following options:
    • This document only: Will tag (or remove a tag from) the selected document, without tagging any of its attachments or family members.
    • Document and attachments: Will tag (or remove a tag from) the selected document and tag all attachments in its family (e.g., children, grandchildren). However, the setting allows you to modify the tagging of any attachment without impacting the parent or any other attachments.
    • Entire family: Will tag (or remove a tag from) the selected document and tag all other documents in its family (e.g., parents, children, grandchildren).
  • Allow reviewers to change their tag propagation setting - In addition to setting the default tag propagation, you can allow reviewers to change the tag propagation prior to applying/removing a tag. Let’s say that you have set the default to this document only but you want reviewers to tag whole families as privileged.  If you allow reviewers to change tag propagation “on the fly”, they can update the propagation setting to Entire family prior to tagging the first document in the family.  Then when they go to apply a Privilege Tag, the tag propagation will apply to the entire family for that one tagging action.
  • Conversation tagging - You can also allow reviewers to tag entire conversations by toggling on the Conversation tagging. Like tag propagation “on the fly”, this allows reviewers to choose to tag an entire email thread just prior to applying their tags.
  • Copy from previous - Allows reviewer to leverage the last coding decisions they made and apply them to the current document. This will be displayed to them as a “Ditto” button.
  • Predicted tag scores - Choose to display DISCO AI tag predictions to your reviewers. Predictions will appear within their document list view and can assist them with their review.


Redactions, Notes, and Fields

In addition to being able to provide your reviewers with customized tagging choices, you can give them access to Redactions, Documents Notes, Privilege Notes, and any custom Fields that have been created.

As with tags, hover over the feature you wish to add to the Decision Pane and click Add.

Again as with tags, you will have the choice to make Redactions, the Privilege Note, and the Document Note features required.  Custom Fields will not have any further options. 

Please note that you can use the dots that appear to the left of each Decision Pane section (as pictured above) to drag and drop the various tag and notes options into the exact order you want.

Once you have completed the setup of the Decision Pane, click the Save button at the top right of the Review Decisions screen. 

Now it is time to add reviewers to the stage; which will be done from the Manage Review Stage screen.  To get back to the management screen, click on the Review Stage name in the top left corner of the Review Decisions screen.



Adding Reviewers, Additional Security and Reassigning Batches

Once you have created a Review Stage, it will appear on the Manage Review Stage screen.  From this area, you can add reviewers, place additional security in Groups, or reassign batches.  To start, select the Review Stage Summary Card.


At the beginning this document, you were given an example case in which you were asked to create a Review Stage called “1st Round Review” that focused on the following documents in the following priority:

  1. All emails (regardless of date) where Vince Kaminski, Sara Shackleton, or Richard Sanders are the custodians
  2. All Word and PDF documents containing the terms contract(s) or agreement(s)
  3. Any documents dated between 01/01/2001 and 01/01/2002

Furthermore, you needed to limit the review of documents from group 1 to only Ann, Bob, and Charles.  The remaining documents could be reviewed by any reviewer on your team.

To start adding reviewers, go to the Manage Review Stage screen.  Here you will have access to the following tabs for each stage:

  • Reviewers - Add / Remove reviewers from the stage.
  • Groups - Limit access to certain batches based on the stage Group by
  • Batches - See the progress of each batch that has been checked out and reassigns batches as needed.



Adding Reviewers 

To add reviewers to a stage, go the Reviewers tab of that stage.

Click the Add Reviewer button to display a searchable list of database users.  Check the box to the left of the user’s name to add them to the Review Stage and click Save.

When you are done, all reviewer’s names will appear on the Reviewers tab.


Additional Security



The Groups tab will display batches based on the Group by criteria you chose in the Contents sections of Review Stage.  Hover over a Source to see the Change access button. 

Click on the Change access button and DISCO will provide you with a list of reviewer names to choose from.  You can give access to this Source to either All Reviewers who have been assigned to the stage or Select Reviewers.  To assign Ann Anifant, Bob Burke, and Charles Green click on the Select reviewer radio button and use the checkboxes to choose the reviewers’ names.  When you are finished, click Save.  

Once you are done, the names of the reviewers you have selected will appear in the Accessible To section of that Stage Source under the Groups tab.



Batch Details and Reassigning Batches

Under the Batches tab, you will be able to see all the batches that have been checked out, along with their progress. 



At times you may need to reassign batches of documents to other reviewers.  To reassign a batch, simply hover over the batch and click on the Give to button.

When you click on Give to, DISCO will display a list of reviewers to whom you can reassign the batch.  The name of the reviewer who currently has the batch checked out will appear in green.  If the batch you want to reassign has additional security, via the Groups tab, DISCO will only allow you to choose from those reviewers given access.

Once you have reassigned the batch, the new reviewer’s name will appear in the batch Status.


Congratulations!  You have now successfully created a new Review Stage, selected your Contents, created a Decision Pane, and ensured that the right reviewers have access to the right documents.    It’s now to start your review and monitor its progress with DISCO’s Review Stage Metrics.





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