Not All Reviews Are Systematic Reviews

Systematic review word cloudSystematic reviews use rigorous and transparent methods to synthesize the findings of research studies and are an increasingly popular study methodology. But is a systematic review always the best way to summarize literature? The answer to that question is “it depends.” Specifically, it depends upon the purpose of your review.

Do you want to answer a specific (clinical or non-clinical) question, using explicit and reproducible methods to search for, select, critically appraise, and synthesize research literature? Then a systematic review (with or without use of meta-analysis) fits the bill.

Are you interested in reviewing a topic on which there are already numerous systematic reviews? An umbrella review (or overview of reviews) compares and contrasts the findings of existing systematic reviews. Like a systematic review of primary literature, an umbrella review uses transparent and pre-specified methods to locate literature and to assess the quality and strength of included reviews.

Would you like to provide an overview of key concepts within a research area, or describe the range of evidence that is available about a topic? Then a scoping review may be a good option. Scoping reviews “map” existing evidence and can be used to identify gaps in the literature. Like systematic reviews and umbrella reviews, scoping reviews require use of rigorous methods, including comprehensive literature searches.

If you want to provide a scholarly overview of a broad area of research, a traditional narrative review may be the best approach. Narrative reviews are typically less structured and methodical than other review types, but are still useful for exploring issues within a body of evidence, or for demonstrating your grasp of key concepts, theories, and problems within a field of study (a common requirement for the background section of a thesis or dissertation).

Still not sure which review type may be best for you? For more information, consult the HSLS Systematic Review Program guide, or send an e-mail to Ask a Librarian.

~Mary Lou Klem

PalPITTations Concert in Falk Library on December 14

Get into the spirit of the season by joining us for a holiday concert performed by the PalPITTations on Thursday, December 14, at 12:30 p.m., on the upper floor of Falk Library. The PalPITTations are the a capella vocal group of health sciences students from the University of Pittsburgh. Light refreshments will be served. All are welcome for this free concert.


Open Data in Research Trending Up

“Open Data” is defined by SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) as “research data that

  1. is freely available on the Internet;
  2. permits any user to download, copy, analyze, re-process, pass to software, or use for any other purpose; and
  3. is without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself.”

The phrase “open data” first appeared in a PubMed article title in 2000, but it took another 13 years for an increase in publications. As we approach 2018, how do researchers now view open data? And most importantly, how does HSLS support health sciences researchers at Pitt? Continue reading

Technology Services End-of-Semester Survival Guide

When the end of semester approaches, Falk Library becomes a hub for finalizing projects and exam preparation. Follow these technology usage tips to help ease your end-of-semester activities.

Book your Group Study Room in advance

Two students in group study roomGroup Study Rooms are a popular study space during finals. You can guarantee a spot for your group by booking up to five days in advance online. If you are not with a group, Room D or E can be booked for a single user. All room users must be health sciences affiliated with a valid Pitt ID. Continue reading


ORCID ID logoWhat is ORCID?

ORCID is the acronym for Open Researcher and Contributor ID. is a non-profit global organization that developed and supports the ORCID iD, a unique and persistent author identifier that recognizes an author’s name and all variants throughout his or her career. An ORCID account is completely controlled by the author.

What is the value of an ORCID iD to researchers?

An ORCID iD reliably links authors to their scholarly works, improving discoverability in databases and repositories. Automated submissions to publishers and funding agencies can save time and eliminate duplication.

 Are ORCID iDs required by publishers and funding agencies?

ORCID iDs are required by major science publishers, such as Springer Nature, Science, PLoS, eLife and BioMed Central, while mega-publishers Elsevier, Wiley, and Wolters Kluwer have also integrated ORCID into their submission systems. ProQuest (Pivot) sees ORCID as supporting “linkages between researchers and their professional activities ensuring that their work is recognized and meaningful.” The list continues to grow.

 What is the ORCID iD initiative at the University of Pittsburgh?

HSLS has partnered with ULS to bring the ORCID iD to Pitt authors to enable reliable name disambiguation, and enhance discoverability and accurate attribution. The ORCID iD can be added to Pitt’s Faculty Information System (FIS) to make it easier to accurately import all types of scholarly works into FIS profiles to automate annual faculty reports and CVs.

How can I sign up for an ORCID iD?

Register for a free ORCID iD at, and remember to grant trusted status to Pitt. For more information, see the HSLS Guide to ORCID@Pitt.

What can I do with my ORCID account after registration?

First, add your affiliation with the University of Pittsburgh so viewers recognize that you are the “J. Smith” at Pitt rather than at Duquesne, for example. Next, link Scopus to your ORCID iD to populate your ORCID record. For instructions, see the HSLS ORCID Guide 1: Link Scopus to ORCID to automatically download your publications.

For more information, see the HSLS guides: Scholarly Communication and Research Impact-Enhance Your Impact. You can also contact Andrea Ketchum at or call 412-648-9757.

~Andrea Ketchum

Relax Over the Holidays—Read a Book!

Over winter break, pour yourself a cup of tea and curl up with a good book from the HSLS Leisure Reading Collection of newly-published fiction and nonfiction. The Leisure Reading Collection is located on the left as you enter the main floor of Falk Library next to the comfortable seating area.

Recent bestsellers in the collection include:

  • Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
  • Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson
  • The Cuban Affair: A Novel by Nelson DeMille
  • Little Fires Everywhere: A Novel by Celeste Ng

You can easily browse the collection or use PITTCat or the Pitt Resources Quick Search box to locate specific titles. Multiple books may be borrowed for a three-week period. If a book you want to read is checked out to another person, place a hold on the book and you’ll be notified when it is returned. We welcome recommendations, send your suggestions to Ask a Librarian.

~Jill Foust

Falk Library Holiday and Winter Recess Hours

Over Pitt’s winter break, Falk Library will have modified hours:

  • Saturday, December 16: 9:30 a.m.–10 p.m.
  • Sunday, December 17: 11 a.m.–10 p.m.
  • Monday, December 18: 7 a.m.–10 p.m.
  • Tuesday, December 19: 7 a.m.–10 p.m.
  • Wednesday, December 20: 7 a.m.–10 p.m.
  • Thursday, December 21: 7 a.m.–4 p.m.
  • Friday, December 22, through Monday, January 1: CLOSED
  • Tuesday, January 2: 7 a.m.–6 p.m.
  • Wednesday, January 3: Resume regular hours

The Ask a Librarian e-mail service will be monitored over winter recess (December 22–January 1). Continue reading

Classes for December 2017

HSLS offers classes on database searching, software applications such as Prezi, bibliographic management, and molecular biology and genetics. For more information, visit the online class calendar.

Classes are held on the first floor of Falk Library (200 Scaife Hall) in Classroom 1 and on the upper floor of the library in Classroom 2. All classes are open to faculty, staff, and students of the University of Pittsburgh. They are also open to UPMC residents and fellows, who will need to show their UPMC IDs.
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