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Kornhauser Health Sciences Library

Systematic Reviews and Evidence Syntheses

Kornhauser Library's clinical librarians are available to assist research teams conducting systematic reviews, meta-analyses, guideline updates, and other evidence synthesis projects. While we do customize the services we provide as appropriate for the nature of each project and the needs of the researchers, our participation can generally be divided into two broad levels:

You can reach out to our librarians at any point in your project for a consultation, and we can work with you face-to-face, virtually, or by email to help with aspects such as:

  • Getting the team started with an overview of the review process
  • Determining the most appropriate type of review for your project
  • Refining the research question and inclusion/exclusion criteria
  • Running a preliminary search to find relevant or pre-existing reviews on the research topic.
  • Recommending databases and other literature sources
  • Reviewing and critiquing search strategies
  • Advising on search documentation, citation management, screening process, and appraisal tools
  • Extracting duplicate references in EndNote and/or creating the review project in Covidence screening tool*
  • Retrieving PDFs of articles identified for inclusion in full-text review

*Our librarians cannot execute the searches at this level, so teams who would like duplicate extraction and/or Covidence services must provide the consulting librarian with their references’ data in the appropriate file format(s) but we will be happy to provide instructions for exporting files correctly for these task(s).

When fully involved from the beginning of a review project, librarians take on the heavy lifting of search methodology, literature collection, and process documentation, allowing the content experts to dedicate their efforts to the appraisal, analysis, and interpretation that can only be achieved with their expertise. As collaborators, our librarians:

  • Contribute to conception and design of the evidence synthesis project, including appropriate review type, focused question, inclusion/exclusion criteria, workflow, and other logistics
  • Develop the search strategy and translate searches to syntax of all databases used
  • If appropriate, identify and search sources of grey literature
  • Perform and document searches, including updating results if appropriate
  • Import search results, extract duplicate references, and manage citations using Endnote software
  • Upload references for screening and manage project in Covidence
  • Create PRISMA flow diagram
  • Retrieve full-text articles for review, including pursuing translations or additional data
  • Write methods section of manuscript to document search, selection criteria, and screening process  
  • Provide details of search queries in alignment with journal requirements and PRISMA guidelines
  • Review and edit drafts, and approve final version submitted for publication


researchers Done by the research team researchers Done by the library

Consultation   Collaboration
researchers Literature search library
researchers Export EndNote-compatible files of search results from all sources library
researchers or library Import and deduplicate references library
researchers or library Export unique references as EndNote XML library
library Create project and import references library
library Invite author reviewers library
researchers Title/abstract screening researchers
library Download studies selected for full text review library
library Import .ris file of references library
library Find PDFs library
library Export references with PDF attachments as XML library
library Upload XML file with PDFs library
researchers Full text screening with exclusion reasoning researchers
researchers Data extraction and quality assessment researchers
researchers Export PRISMA flowchart as .docx library
researchers Export data/quality as CSV researchers
researchers Analysis and visualization researchers
researchers Methods section library
researchers Flowchart library
researchers Search details/documentation library
researchers Introduction researchers
researchers Statistical methods researchers
researchers Results researchers
researchers Conclusion researchers


Librarians contributing to the work at the collaborator level should be recognized with authorship in alignment with ICMJE recommendations. While we do not charge a monetary fee for review services, external grant funding for guideline updates or other synthesis projects may include funding for library effort, and investigators with such funding should work with their librarian on estimating costs for the grant proposal and/or invoicing process.

For consultation services, an acknowledgement by name in the manuscript is appreciated when 2 or more hours of effort are spent supporting a single review project.

If you are a student reviewing the literature as part of your dissertation or other assignment related to your coursework, we are happy to offer guidance on best practices and other assistance for students at the consultant level, but you must inform us at the time of the request.

Our librarians cannot perform the searches, write the methods, or assign grades for assignments, and the student is solely responsible for meeting the learning objectives for academic projects and adhering to expectations for independent work, including disclosure of our participation on the project if required.

If you are uncertain about grading standards or limitations on librarian involvement, please discuss with your instructor.