Involving a librarian or a trained information professional in any type of health sciences review article is strongly recommended because "extensive literature searches can be difficult to perform, given the complexity of the search process and authors’ time constraints. It is also unlikely that a content expert will be familiar with the intricacies of more than one database. Empirical evidence provides a strong rationale for searching multiple databases. For this reason, collaborating with medical librarians is recommended when writing review articles" (Rethlefsen ML, Murad M, & Livingston EH, 2014, p. 999).
The involvement of a librarian is particularly important for systematic reviews and engaging a librarian in a systematic review is a specific recommendation of both the Cochrane Review Group and the Institute of Medicine. Laupus Library offers a Systematic Review Service, with the goal of working collaboratively with researchers undertaking Systematic Reviews.
Librarians' role in Systematic Reviews requested by researchers will be:
**Developing and conducting database-specific searches is a lengthy process which may take a month long or more. Please involve the librarian in the early stages of planning your review**
Differing from narrative reviews, a systematic review addresses a "...clearly formulated question that uses systematic and explicit methods to identify, select and critically appraise relevant research, and to collect and analyze data from the studies that are included in the review." (Cochrane Handbook) Because of this, the time commitment for a systematic review is significant, please plan ahead and be sure to leave enough time to work on your review.
1 – 2 Preparation of protocol.
3 – 8 Searches for published and unpublished studies.
2 – 3 Pilot test of eligibility criteria.
3 – 8 Inclusion assessments.
3 Pilot test of ‘Risk of bias’ assessment.
3 – 10 Validity assessments.
3 Pilot test of data collection.
3 – 10 Data collection.
3 – 10 Data entry.
5 – 11 Follow up of missing information.
8 – 10 Analysis.
1 – 11 Preparation of review report.
12 – Keeping the review up-to-date.
Source: Higgins JPT, Green S (editors). Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions Version 5.1.0 [updated March 2011]. The Cochrane Collaboration, 2011. Available from www.cochrane-handbook.org.