The prominence of systematic reviews as bases for evidence-based practice is increasingly recognized and has significance for practice disciplines such as nursing. Synthesizing research findings is key to informing the clinical care of individuals burdened with health problems. A major issue in conducting such reviews involves developing reliable and valid coding procedures for extracting data from the research literature. A formalized process is described for developing coding instruments that have been used in five separate studies. Initial instrument development for a diabetes self-management education meta-analysis is described, followed by a discussion of adapting the instruments for subsequent meta-analytic studies of self-management interventions in diabetes care and of interventions to reduce caregiver burden of individuals with Alzheimer's disease dementia. Although time and effort are required for development of coding processes for research synthesis, these instrument development activities are one of the critical elements of producing reliable and clinically useful information.