Skip to Main Content

Support for Evidence Synthesis Reviews: Benefits

Ways a Librarian Can Support Your Evidence Synthesis Review


The evidence synthesis process is complex and requires not only expertise, but specific knowledge and skillsets. Temple University librarians trained in evidence synthesis methods can provide educational support or perform various steps of the review process for your team. Having a librarian on your team will give you expertise throughout the process, reliable results, and documented methods. 


We expect that librarians who offer substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work will be offered co-authorship for per ICMJE recommendations For more information about librarian contributions to evidence synthesis see the citations below.* 


Below is a detailed chart that breaks down the steps of a traditional systematic review and the librarian co-author’s potential contributions. Other review types may have different steps. 

Details of the Traditional Systematic Review

Steps in a Traditional Systematic Review Potential Contribution of Librarian Co-Author 
1. Assemble systematic review team and select project manager  Provide guidance 
2. Identify appropriate review methodology  Provide guidance 
3. Define research question  Provide information on appropriate question frameworks (e.g. PICO) 
4. Define inclusion/exclusion criteria  Provide guidance 
5. Select databases  Suggest appropriate databases 
6. Select grey literature resources  Suggest grey literature resources 
7. Write search strategy for preliminary search  Lead writing of the search strategy
8. Write and register protocol (written compilation of previous steps)  Provide comments on protocol and guide protocol registration process 
9. Translate search strategy to syntax of all databases (including grey literature)  Translate search strategy 
10. Search and export results into citation management software  Perform searches and export results 
11. De-duplicate results  Perform de-duplication, or train your team on the process 
12. Title and abstract screening  Recommend article screening software and advise on use of software 
13. Retrieve full-text articles  Provide guidance 
14. Full-text screening  Provide guidance 
15. Risk-of-bias assessment  Provide guidance 
16. Data extraction  Provide guidance 
17. Meta-analysis or synthesis of results  Provide guidance 
18. Write the manuscript  Write information retrieval portion of the methods section 

This table is directly informed by and selectively reuses, with permission, content from A Guide to Evidence Synthesis, Cornell University Library Evidence Synthesis Service. 


Rethlefsen ML, Farrell AM, Trzasko LC, Brigham TJ. Librarian co-authors correlated with higher quality reported search strategies in general internal medicine systematic reviews. Journal of clinical epidemiology. 2015 Jun 1;68(6):617-26. 

Meert D, Torabi N, Costella J. Impact of librarians on reporting of the literature searching component of pediatric systematic reviews. Journal of the Medical Library Association: JMLA. 2016 Oct;104(4):267. 

Schellinger J, Sewell K, Bloss JE, Ebron T, Forbes C. The effect of librarian involvement on the quality of systematic reviews in dental medicine. PloS one. 2021 Sep 1;16(9):e0256833. 

Aamodt M, Huurdeman H, Strømme H. Librarian co-authored systematic reviews are associated with lower risk of bias compared to systematic reviews with acknowledgement of librarians or no participation by librarians. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice. 2019;14(4):103-27. 

Higgins JP, Thomas J, Chandler J, Cumpston M, Li T, Page MJ, Welch VA, editors. Cochrane handbook for systematic reviews of interventions. John Wiley & Sons; 2019 Sep 23. 

Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Standards for Systematic Reviews of Comparative Effectiveness Research. Finding What Works in Health Care: Standards for Systematic Reviews. Eden J, Levit L, Berg A, Morton S, editors. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2011.