Systematic Reviews and academic librarians

A couple of weeks ago I attended a series of three workshops which provided an introduction to Evidence Based Medicine (EBM) and Systematic Reviews (SR) for librarians. The workshops were organised for the staff who work with the Faculties of Science and Human Sciences, as these are the areas where the demand for SR has been greatest. Traditionally, SR have been carried out by clinicians in the medical sciences, and medical librarians have worked as part of the review team. At Macquarie, we have been receiving requests for assistance with SR from non-medical academic staff in areas such as chiropractic and psychology. None of the librarians who support these areas have any experience in conducting SR, which is why the training was organised.

The workshops took us through the various steps of EBM, and outlined what is involved in carrying out a proper SR and where the librarian can play a role. Our expertise lies in searching the literature, so we can take the lead in developing the search strategy and conducting a comprehensive search of the published and unpublished literature. For me, the workshops helped to demystify SR and make them seem less scary. They also helped to clarify exactly what a SR is, and how it differs from a comprehensive literature review. This will be also useful, I think, to help the academic staff decide if they do actually need to conduct a SR, or if a literature review will be sufficient.

We’re now developing a model for offering a SR support service, with a policy and guidelines that outlines exactly what we can offer and what our expectations are e.g. including the librarian as an author of the review. I don’t think we’ll be overwhelmed with demand, but it will be nice to be prepared for any future requests.

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About Andrew

I'm a health librarian in Sydney, Australia, who also happens to be a geocacher.

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