STEP 1: Framing the questionSTEP 2: Assembling the teamSTEP 3: Crafting the search strategySTEP 4: Assessing papers retrievedSTEP 5: Summarizing the evidenceSTEP 6: Interpreting the findingsSTEP 7: Publishing your results
This is the "Overview" page of the "Systematic Review (SR) Service" guide.
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Collaborate with a MSK Reference Librarian to publish your Systematic Review.
Last Updated: Jun 1, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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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.


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


The MSK Library and Systematic Reviews (SR)

Institute of Medicine (IOM) standard (3.1.1) for systematic reviews states: work with a librarian or other information specialist trained in performing systematic reviews to plan the search strategy. MSK librarians have collaborated with researchers on a number of systematic reviews and have earned CE credit for completing systematic review workshops.

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.

The librarian as co-author 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.

In the box to the left, you will find our Systematic Review Search Request form. Please fill it in to the degree that you can and return to Donna Gibson. Your librarian will meet with you to complete it and discuss questions you may have. You may also call 212-639-2109.

We recommend that you print a copy of the two PRISMA documents, which are used by journal editors to help authors understand systematic review publication requirements. They will be discussed in more detail at the first meeting with your librarian.


    For Help, Contact:

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    Donna Gibson - Director of Library Services
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    Reference: 212-639-7439
    Donna: 212-639-2109
    Donna (Blackberry): 646-229-7383
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