Systematic reviews & the librarian

A librarian’s role can vary from that of search expert to project manager.

Planning stage: The question needs to be specific and fit a standard framework e.g. Population , Intervention, Comparison, and Outcome (PICO); and be both unique and feasible. Also important is to establish the librarian’s responsibilities in the management of the project.

Selecting the resources: Medline, Embase, and Cochrane Central clinical trial registries e.g. WHO’s International Clinical Trials Registry Platform and locally relevant resources both published and ‘grey literature’. Global Health is particularly strong on public health issues on a global scale.

Selecting the terms: Health condition/population, intervention, study design – use advanced search techniques e.g. truncation, proximity and phrase searching. Avoid limitations e.g. do not restrict to ‘human’ instead  limit out ‘animals’

Evaluation of search: Use the client / project group to evaluate the first 50 results.

Selection of material: List eligibility criteria to sort the relevant from the irrelevant. Reasons for those excluded during Stage 1. Title/bstract screening and Stage 2. Full text screening need to be recorded. These two stages should be completed independently by at least two people.

Risk of bias assessment: Use a tool to evaluate the risk and two methods with two evaluators to implement it e.g. MS Excel etc.

Coding: Systematically collect the character of each study. The Cochrane Handbook provides a potential list of characteristics and examples of coding forms are available from the Cochrane Collaboration. Pencil & paper, MSAccess or other software will be needed.

Write the report: Authorship should depend on contribution.

Resources: Cochrane Handbook for systematic reviews of interventions. 2011; Methodological expectations of Cochrane  Intervention Reviews 2013

Based on: An overview of the role of librarians in systematic reviews by Margaret J. Foster. Journal of  EAHIL  11(3) 3-7. 2015.

Jean Shaw, Phi

About jgreigshaw

I work with Partnerships in Health Information which promotes partnership between libraries in Africa and the UK with an emphasis in African leadership. I have visited Kenya, Mali, Uganda and Zambia though Phi has contacts in many more African countries.
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