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Systematic Reviews: Our Service

This guide is intended to provide related information for the users who prepare to write systematic reviews.

What is a Systematic Review

A review of a clearly formulated question that uses systematic and explicit methods to identify, select and critically appraise all relevant research, and to collect and analyse data from the studies that are included in the review. (http://www.cochrane.org/faq/general

Who can use the Systematic Review Service

The Systematic Review (SR) service is open to current Penn and PennMedicine faculty, staff and students. Due to time considerations and library resources, the SR service is not available to non-Penn researchers. There must be at least one Penn faculty member, staff or student, or CHOP staff with a PennKey research affiliation on your review team.

Preparation steps for conducting a Systematic Review

To prepare for your Systematic Review consultation, we suggest you visit the Systematic Review webpage.

Basic and Advanced Services

The Biomedical Library offers a two tiered level of service for Systematic Reviews (SR) assistance. Our Basic service provides face-to-face consultations covering the processes and best practices for conducting a systematic review. It is designed to get the researcher started.

In the Advanced service, librarians are considered full team members of the research team and conduct in-depth literature searches, assist with citation management, and write the literature search methodology for the final paper for publication.

For the Basic Service, we can offer:

  •     Consultation on SR processes and guidelines
  •     Assistance on refining research topics and initial search strategies
  •     Assistance on inclusion and exclusion criteria
  •     Advice on identifying controlled vocabulary and keywords
  •     Recommendations for databases and other resources to search
  •     Advice on citation management methods and tools

For the Advanced Service, we offer to: 

  •    Gather appropriate controlled vocabulary & keywords in conjunction with team members 
  •     Conduct literature searches across multiple databases
  •     Advise on gray literature resources
  •     Provide assistance with citation management
  •     Assist in retrieving full text articles
  •     Refine and update searches 
  •     Write the methodology section for publication
  •     Review manuscript
  •     Maintain communication with other team members

Priority Services

Priority will be given to Systematic Review projects supported by grants or other funds, which contribute to library costs in the budget of the grant proposal, or other time-sensitive projects.  

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Advanced Systematic Review Service Agreement

Must Read

  • Availability of the Systematic Review service is contingent upon staffing.
  • As team members, librarians will receive co-authorship for advanced Systematic Reviews.

Requirements for Advanced Service

Systematic Reviews are time intensive requiring a high level of intellectual effort so we recommend involving the librarian early in the SR process. This SR process involves a commitment from both the librarians and other team members. In order to facilitate a successful outcome to the SR process, we require that you provide the following:

  • Your research question has been defined (in PICO format if appropriate)
  • Inclusion and exclusion criteria have been considered
  • A research protocol is in place which includes a timeline as well as desired outcome (published SR, meta-analysis, guideline)
  • Your research team has been established and includes experts from various disciplines. The Health and Medicine Division of the National Academies of Sciences Engineering Medicine report, "Finding What Works in Health Care: Standards for Systematic Review," could be used as a guide.