How Can the Library Help in the Systematic Review Development Process?

In early 2011, the Institute of Medicine released Standards for Systematic Reviews. Standard 3.1 that calls for systematic reviewers to work with a librarian or other information professional when conducting literature searches for systematic reviews. Additionally, the standard advises that a librarian or other information professional be involved in the peer review of the search strategies.

The following list expands and specifies the potential ways a librarian can contribute to the systematic review team:

  • Provide guidance on determining if a systematic review has already been done on your topic
  • Prepare and conduct literature searches for the systematic review
  • Peer review of systematic review search strategies
  • Provide guidance on the reference management of the located studies
  • Document delivery (ordering the full text of articles not available at our institution)
  • Documenting and writing the search methods for the review
  • Updating literature searches

Health Sciences Library System (HSLS) reference librarians have expertise in systematic review searching. They are available as potential collaborators for University of Pittsburgh systematic review teams. To request a librarian to help with your systematic review, contact the Main Desk at 412-648-8866 or e-mail Ask a Librarian. Search preparation and processing can take as long as three months, therefore it is advisable to put in your requests early in the process and to engage the librarian in the first stages of planning for a systematic review.

HSLS librarians have collaborated on the systematic reviews listed below, and several others are in process:

~ Ahlam Saleh