Program Session

2 - Daring to Realize the Dream of Published Systematic Reviews

Monday, May 29
10:50 AM - 11:05 AM
Room: 607

Objective: Systematic reviews (SRs) are consuming increasing amounts of librarians’ time. This study sought to collect librarian experiences and opinions on unsubmitted SRs as well as suggestions for specific actions, policies, and procedures to assist in reducing their number. The goal is to increase the likelihood that librarian and researcher time and effort results in submission for publication.


Methods: An IRB-approved electronic survey was distributed to specific medical librarian email lists. Questions focused on perceived barriers to successful completion of SRs and efforts to eliminate or reduce these barriers. Checkboxes and a free-text box were provided for each question. A combination of Qualtrics and Excel was used to tabulate results. Follow-up phone interviews were conducted with some of those who volunteered their contact information.


Results: Most of the 128 participants who finished the online survey self-identified as academic librarians, with more non-tenure track than tenure-track. Only 7% of librarians reported systematic reviews as their primary responsibility. Respondents reported at least sometimes performing the following tasks for co-authorship: developing or editing search strategies (98%), searching grey literature (86%), snowballing/pearling (61%), requesting ILLs/scanning articles (60%), and hand-searching (52%). Fewer indicated they at least sometimes assessed study quality (21%), extracted data (18%), or submitted the article for publication (13%).


The most noted barriers to submission included poor communication, unrealistic team size or timelines, too broad/narrow topics and inclusion/exclusion criteria, changing topics or personnel, and incomplete knowledge of or adherence to SR procedures. Participants most often implemented the following solutions: regular communication, checklists, formal instruction, limiting simultaneous SRs, and policies regarding fees, required protocols, and pre-consultation forms. Participants supported candidly discussing timelines, personnel involvement, and appropriate SR procedures at the initial meeting. SRs were declined due to faculty resistance to following SR protocols and workload commitments, although one person indicated declining wasn’t an option.


Conclusion: With the majority of librarian tasks occurring early in the SR process, the initial meeting is the time to determine if a SR is the appropriate review type, and discuss expectations, time demands, and workload. The use of checklists and procedural policies could facilitate interaction with the PI. Administrative support for these activities and policies on concurrent SRs and permission to decline could protect librarians from over-commitment. In addition, SR fees might winnow requests, leaving more time for those with strong commitment and improve the rate at which work-effort results in submission.



Keywords: "Systematic reviews", submission, publication, barriers



Program Session

Allison M. Howard

Research and Education Librarian
University of South Florida
Tampa, FL

Allison Howard is a University Librarian in the areas of cataloging and research at the Shimberg Health Sciences Library, University of South Florida. While she serves all the USF Health Colleges and Schools – Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Public Health, Biomedical Sciences, and Physical Therapy and Rehabilitative Sciences, Public Health is her liaison area. Allison participates on numerous committees within her institution and state-wide. She has served on SCMLA chapter committees and on the leadership board of the Florida Health Sciences Library Association. In her free time, she enjoys crocheting, gardening and serves as secretary for the local Gesneriad Society.

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Nancy Schaefer

Reference and Instruction Librarian
University of Florida Health Science Center Library
Gainesville, FL

Nancy Schaefer, MLIS, AHIP, Reference and Instruction LIbrarian, University of Florida Health Science Center Libraries, liaises to University of Florida's public health programs and to other departments and institutes in UF's colleges of Medicine and Public Health and Health Professions.

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