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Systematic Review (SR) Service: Overview

Collaborate with a MSK Reference Librarian to publish your Systematic Review.

Systematic Review Workshop

The MSK Research Informationists have special training in conducting systematic reviews and have created a workshop for MSK staff interested in pursuing this type of research. The workshop (Demystifying the Systematic Review Process) will take between 4 to 4.5 hours and can be given as one session or broken down into a series of sessions, depending on the availability of the group.  To learn more about this workshop or to schedule a date that works for your team, please contact Donna Gibson.

What is a SR?

Systematic Reviews (SRs) are a form of Evidence-Based Practice.

They are scientific investigations in themselves, with pre-planned methods and an assembly of original studies as their “subjects.” They synthesize the results of multiple primary investigations by using strategies that limit bias and random error... These strategies include a comprehensive search of all potentially relevant articles and the use of explicit, reproducible criteria in the selection of articles for review. Primary research designs and study characteristics are appraised, data are synthesized, and results are interpreted.

From: Systematic reviews: synthesis of best evidence for clinical decisions. Cook DJ, ulrow CD, Haynes RB. Ann Intern Med. 1997 Mar 1;126(5):376-80.

Cochrane explains:  What are Systematic Reviews?  (3:23 min; January 27,2016)

What is a Scoping Review?

Preliminary assessment of potential size and scope of available research literature. Scoping reviews are often a first step in conducting a SR because it allows the investigator the opportunity to review the literature landscape and determine whether or not a SR is feasible (too much or too little publications). This type of review takes the same systematic and rigorous methodologies used in conducting an SR.

Scoping review papers:

The MSK Library and Systematic Reviews (SR)

In the Documents for Researchers, you will find our Systematic Review Search Request form. Please complete to the degree that you can and return via email to Donna Gibson. Your request will be reviewed and a researcher informationist will be assigned to you and your team to discuss next steps. 

The National Academies' standards for systematic reviews (3.1.1) states: work with a librarian or other information specialist trained in performing systematic reviews to plan the search strategy. The MSK research informationist's team has collaborated with researchers on a number of systematic reviews. Before supporting our Systematic Review Service, every research informationist attends formal training to hone their search expertise and be able to provide guidance on the systematic review process. They have earned CE credit for these classes.

A paper published online (February 5, 2015) in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology entitled, "Librarian co-authors correlated with higher quality reported search strategies in general internal medicine systematic reviews" shows that engaging a librarian or information professional on the systematic review team is a potential way to help improve documentation of the search strategy.

A paper published online (Nov 2014) in the Journal of the American Informatics Association entitled, "Effects of librarian-provided services in healthcare settings: a systematic review" concluded that librarian-provided services directed to participants in training programs improved skills in literature searching and facilitated the integration of research evidence into clinical decision-making; that these services save time for health care professionals and supported informed decisions.  In addition, two studies illustrated patient length of stay was reduced when clinicians requested literature searches related to a patient's case.

Research Informationist as Co-Investigator

The research informationist as co-investigator is committed to collaborating and supporting the following Systematic Review tasks:

  • Determine if a systematic review has already been done on your topic.
  • Translate the research question into an appropriate search strategy.
  • Translate the search concepts into controlled vocabulary and keywords so that retrieval is maximized at the same time as being precise.
  • Recommend specific databases and other information sources to be searched.
  • Conduct the literature searches.
  • Provide training to your administrative staff or designated team member in how to access full text articles or request them via MSK Document Delivery. Help obtain or verify any references found from hand searching or other venues.
  • Provide guidance and support regarding bibliographic management tools.
  • Write the literature search methodology section for the submitted manuscript.
  • Maintain records of search results and follow up with alerts and updates as needed.

For Help, Contact:

Donna Gibson's picture
Donna Gibson

Reference: 212-639-7439
Work: 212-639-2109
Mobile: 646-229-7383