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Systematic reviews, scoping reviews and other evidence syntheses

Overview of evidence synthesis reviews and relevant strategies, tools and resources.

Library support for systematic reviews

Brock University Library provides librarian support for researchers conducting comprehensive evidence synthesis reviews. This may include, but is not limited to, systematic reviews, scoping reviews, rapid reviews, and/or meta-analyses. (Consult this article for more information about types of review articles)

Note that standards established by key evidence synthesis standards organizations (IOMCochraneCIHRCampbell Collaboration) recommend or require librarians to participate on the research team and/or be involved in developing the research question and literature searching strategy.

Due to the expertise and time investment associated with evidence synthesis, the Library provides tiered support for synthesis reviews, with support for graduate theses/dissertations limited to Training and Consultation services only.  

Note that systematic reviews are generally not appropriate to assign as course-based projects, particularly for undergraduate students.

Tier 1: Training

Available to: Graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, research assistants and faculty

  • Up to 5 hours of individual or group training sessions on evidence synthesis reviews (e.g. systematic reviews, scoping reviews) and associated tasks, such as:
    • Overview of the evidence synthesis process and/or specific review type e.g. systematic review
    • Planning a synthesis review:
      • Developing an appropriate research question
      • Team membership
      • Creating (and registering) a systematic review protocol
      • Establishing inclusion and exclusion criteria
      • Selecting a framework for monitoring and reporting workflow e.g. PRISMA
      • Developing a literature searching strategies
      • Documenting and reporting search results
      • Strategies and tools for managing citations
      • Strategies and tools for screening citations and extracting data

Requirements:

  • For graduate student projects: Faculty supervisors should attend initial Library meeting

Tier 2: Consultation

Available to: Graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, research assistants and faculty

  • Up to 5 hours of consultation on topics such as:
    • Developing a search strategy for a synthesis review project:
      • fine-tuning a research question
      • developing base search strategy: selecting appropriate keywords, subject headings and search operators and advanced searching syntax
    • Selecting appropriate databases, grey literature sources and other information resources
    • Strategies for advanced searching in specific databases/sources
    • Advice on search filters/hedges to capture elements such as study designs, population groups, etc.
    • Using a specific tool (e.g. Zotero, Mendeley) for managing citations and removing duplicate citations
    • Using a specific tool for screening citations and extracting data e.g. Covidence
    • Selecting appropriate techniques and frameworks for synthesizing data

Requirements:

  • Before meeting with the librarian, researchers must complete a work plan including their:
    • Background justification for the review
    • Draft research question
    • Draft inclusion and exclusion criteria 
  • For graduate student projects: faculty supervisors attend initial Library meeting
  • Librarian(s) involved must be acknowledged, by name, in any resulting publications including theses/dissertations

Tier 3: Collaboration

Available to: Brock faculty only; must be lead investigator.
Librarians choose whether to participate as collaborators based on their time and interest in the project.

Librarians may be involved in any or all of the following activities:

  • Attend team meetings and provide relevant expertise
  • Assist with research question refinement
  • Contribute to protocol development
  • Arrange for Peer Review of Electronic Search Strategies
  • Design, test, translate and execute searches of bibliographic databases
  • Search for grey literature
  • Remove duplicate records from search results, record clean-up
  • Provide literature search documentation, including a PRISMA flowchart.
  • Author relevant portions of the manuscript, e.g. Methods section
  • Editorial contributions to the final manuscript
  • Participate in screening
  • Other activities as negotiated

Requirements:

  • Librarian involved must be named as co-author on any resulting publications
  • Investigators and librarian sign a memorandum of understanding outlining key responsibilities and timelines
  • Before meeting with the librarian, researchers must complete a work plan including their:
    • Background justification for the review
    • Draft research question
    • Draft inclusion and exclusion criteria 

 

References:

University of Manitoba Libraries Literature Searches for Knowledge Synthesis: Information

McGill Library Systematic Review Service

St. Michael's Hospital Health Sciences Library Systematic Search Services Policy

University of Saskatchewan Library Systematic Review Guidelines