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:
This is our most popular option and one that works best for a lot of students.
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.)
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:
Due time constraints, workloads, and librarian availability, the librarian has the right to decline co-authorship.
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.
|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.
Thank you to the Evidence Synthesis Librarians at Cornell for their advice and mentorship. Content on this page was recreated with permission from them.