Systematic Reviews

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.

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 X X
  Background searching for past and upcoming reviews X X
Development of Eligibility Criteria Development and/or refinement of review topic X X
  Assistance with refinement of PICO (population, intervention(s), comparator(s), and key questions X X
  Guidance on study types to include X X
Protocol Creation and Registration Guidance on protocol registration X X
Searching Identification of databases for searches X X
  Instruction in search techniques and methods X X
  Training in citation management software use for managing and sharing results X X
  Development and execution of searches   X
  Downloading search results to citation management software and removing duplicates   X
  Documentation of search strategies   X
  Management of search results   X
Study Selection and Extraction Guidance on methods X X
  Guidance on data extraction, and management techniques and software X X
Writing and Publishing Suggestions of journals to target for publication X X
  Drafting of literature search description in "Methods" section   X
  Creation of PRISMA diagram   X
  Drafting of literature search appendix   X
  Review other manuscript sections and final draft   X
  Librarian contributions warrant co-authorship   X

Systematic reviews by UNC HSL librarians

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