Systematic reviews: What is our role?

I had the great opportunity to attend a 2.5 day course at the University of Pittsburgh called Systematic Review Workshop: The Nuts and Bolts for Librarians. As a relatively new “liaison librarian,” the course was not only informative but it also substantially increased my confidence.

One interesting discussion involved authorship: As collaborators (rather than service providers) in the SR process, we were strongly encouraged to request authorship from the beginning of the process, but also to make sure researchers understand what a systematic review entails (the latter may have the added benefit of increasing our perceived authority, e.g., by providing them with documents such as the IOM Standards or the PRISMA Statement). Some libraries have dealt with the authorship issue by creating information sheets for researchers which outline the work of librarians: This forewarns researchers of the level of involvement of librarians and can avoid the awkward conversation. Most people who had either not requested authorship in the past or who had never done a search for a systematic review felt uneasy about this, but the experienced SR searchers reassured us that very rarely had the request for authorship been a problem. One piece of advice offered by Mary Lou Klem (one of several great instructors in the course) was to explain our role as that of the “librarian equivalent of a biostatistician.”

Although attending the session in person was ideal, I have found quite a few useful web resources for librarians who are interested in developing their search skills for the systematic review process.

Conducting Systematic Reviews
Duke University Medical Center Library

Guides to Using Library Resources: Systematic Reviews (Systematic Reviews “tab”)
University of Texas School of Public Health Library

Searching in Support of Systematic Reviews
Dartmouth College Library

Systematic Reviews: A Guide to Library Resources at McGill
McGill University
(That last one, I will admit, may reflect a personal bias).

I would love to find out about useful French sites, or if anyone has any of their own favourites, I would be most interested.