Consultant or Co-Author
As you embark on your evidence synthesis project, librarians can help at either the consultant or co-author level.
Collaborating with a librarian as a:
As a consultant, a librarian can step in at different points of your systematic review and:
- Provide background information and resources on the systematic review process
- Recommend databases, protocol registration platforms, and citation management software
- Suggest edits for your search strategy. As a consultant, your librarian can provide up to 15 hours of support throughout the project. (These hours may vary depending on the project).
Co-authoring is a more substantial commitment, and a librarian will typically devote more than a year to partner with you on your systematic review. As a co-author, the librarian will be more hands-on and can:
- Select databases and gray literature resources
- Write the search strategy
- Translate searches to syntax of all databases
- Perform searches and export them to citation management software
- Comment on the protocol
- Perform de-duplication, or train your team on the process
- Advise on the use of article screening software
- Write a portion of the methods section specific to searching
A systematic review will typically require a year or more to complete, and librarians’ availability may vary, so please plan ahead and reach out to us as early as you can.
Below is a detailed chart that breaks down the steps of a traditional systematic review and the librarian co-author’s potential contributions. (Please note that these time estimates may vary depending on the project, and some steps may happen concurrently.)
Tasks and Timelines
|Steps in a Traditional Systematic Review||Estimated Time Investment||Potential Contribution of Librarian Co-Author|
|1. Assemble systematic review team and select project manager||Varies||Provide guidance|
|2. Identify appropriate review methodology||2 weeks||Provide guidance|
|3. Define research question||2 weeks||Provide information on appropriate question frameworks (e.g. PICO)|
|4. Define inclusion/exclusion criteria||1 week||Provide guidance|
|5. Select databases||1 week||Suggest appropriate databases|
|6. Select gray literature resources||1 week||Suggest gray literature resources|
|7. Write search strategy for “master” database||1 week||Lead writing of the search strategy|
|8. Write and register protocol (written compilation of previous steps)||Varies||Provide comments on protocol and guide protocol registration process|
|9. Translate search strategy to syntax 2 of all databases (including gray literature)||2 weeks||Translate search strategy|
|10. Search and export results into citation management software||2 weeks||Perform searches and export results|
|11. De-duplicate results||2-4 weeks||Perform de-duplication, or train your team on the process|
|12. Title and abstract screening||2–3 months*||Recommend article screening software and advise on use of software|
|13. Retrieve full-text articles||1 month*||Train team on full-text article retrieval|
|14. Full-text screening||2–3 months*||Provide guidance|
|15. Risk-of-bias assessment||2–3 months||Provide guidance|
|16. Data extraction||2–3 months||Provide guidance|
|17. Meta-analysis or synthesis of results||2–3 months||Provide guidance|
|18. Write the manuscript||2–3 months||Write information retrieval portion of the methods section|
* Timeframe can vary significantly depending on number of citations identified for screening.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.