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Systematic Reviews- Legacy (2020-2022): How Can the Library Help?

Created by Health Science Librarians

Why should a librarian be on your team?

Research shows that the methodological quality of systematic reviews improves when librarians are active members of the research team. Librarian participation in research teams results in:

Recently Published Systematic reviews by UNC HSL librarians

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The role of the librarian

According to the Institute of Medicine Standards for Systematic Reviews, the systematic review team should work with a librarian during the following steps:

3.1.1     Work with a librarian or other information specialist trained in performing systematic reviews to plan the search strategy
3.1.2 Design the search strategy to address each key research question
3.1.3 Use an independent librarian or other information specialist to peer review the search strategy

In addition to the standards outlined by the Institute of Medicine, a trained librarian can help with numerous steps throughout the planning, conducting, and reporting phases of your systematic review. With our specialized knowledge of the systematic review process, we can save you time and confusion by providing guidance on the systematic review process and the best practices for many of the steps along the way, as well as actively helping to develop and refine your topic, create systematic literature searches of all relevant databases, search the grey literature, and provide information for your PRISMA figure and Methods section.

Librarians have several roles in the systematic review process. Special emphasis is placed in the planning, conducting, and reporting phases of the review.

Partner with a librarian

Systematic reviews follow established guidelines and best practices to produce high-quality research. Librarian involvement in systematic reviews is based on two levels. In Tier 1, the librarian will collaborate with researchers in a consultative manner. In Tier 2, the librarian will be an active member of your research team and co-author on your review. Roles and expectations of librarians vary based on the level of involvement desired. Examples of these differences are outlined in the table below.

Role Tasks Tier 1: Consultative Tier 2: Research Partner / Co-author
Topic Development Guidance on process and steps Yes Yes
  Background searching for past and upcoming reviews Yes Yes
Development of Eligibility Criteria Development and/or refinement of review topic Yes Yes
  Assistance with refinement of PICO (population, intervention(s), comparator(s), and key questions Yes Yes
  Guidance on study types to include Yes Yes
Protocol Creation and Registration Guidance on protocol registration Yes Yes
Searching Identification of databases for searches Yes Yes
  Instruction in search techniques and methods Yes Yes
  Training in citation management software use for managing and sharing results Yes Yes
  Development and execution of searches No Yes
  Downloading search results to citation management software and removing duplicates No Yes
  Documentation of search strategies No Yes
  Management of search results No Yes
Study Selection and Extraction Guidance on methods Yes Yes
  Guidance on data extraction, and management techniques and software Yes Yes
Writing and Publishing Suggestions of journals to target for publication Yes Yes
  Drafting of literature search description in "Methods" section No Yes
  Creation of PRISMA diagram No Yes
  Drafting of literature search appendix No Yes
  Review other manuscript sections and final draft No Yes
  Librarian contributions warrant co-authorship No Yes