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Evidence Synthesis with the Health Sciences Librarians at Abbott Library: Home

Last Updated: Jan 8, 2024 4:00 PM

Evidence Synthesis Policy

This policy outlines the available assistance and possible services available from the Health Sciences Librarians at Abbott Library (HSL@Abbott) concerning systematic searches for narrative, rapid, scoping, umbrella, or systematic reviews. This service is available to those currently affiliated with the University at Buffalo (UB): current faculty, staff, residents, fellows, and/or students. Research teams must have at least one member with current UB affiliation.

See also: Which Review is Right for You?  

For further details on the distinctions between types of evidence synthesis projects see: 

Sutton, A., Clowes, M., Preston, L., & Booth, A. (2019). Meeting the review family: Exploring review types and associated information retrieval requirements. Health Information & Libraries Journal, 36, 202–222.   -   UB Libraries Link  

Why work with us?

The HSL@Abbott librarians are trained in the systematic review process and have experience constructing searches, selecting databases, and organizing citations. The National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) recommends working with a librarian on systematic reviews, as seen below.  

From Recommended Standards for Finding and Assessing Individual Studies in Finding What Works in Health Care: Standards for Systematic Reviews

3.1.1 Work with a librarian or other information specialist trained in performing systematic reviews to plan the search strategy 

3.1.3 Use an independent librarian or other information specialist to peer review the search strategy 

Defining authorship

When librarians are part of the evidence synthesis project team, they make substantial contributions and investments of their time to the critical work of the review. As co-authors, librarians make expert contributions in the design and organization of review projects, building and translating searches across target databases, managing the exported data, utilizing the essential support tools and platforms, as well as drafting and reviewing the relevant portions of manuscripts. In doing so, librarians agree to be accountable for the quality and integrity of their work. This work is in line with authorship as described by major publishers and journal definitions of authorship: ICMJE, BMJ, Nature, CReDiT used by a number of publications from Elsevier, Wiley and Sage.   

Timeline of a Systematic Review

Don't underestimate the amount of time required for a systematic review. Most teams are balancing multiple projects and responsibilities in addition to the systematic review. The following table can help you better understand a typical length of commitment necessary for a systematic review.

Timeline of a Systematic Review
Steps General Amount of Time Needed Per Step
Protocol Development 1-2 months
Searching the Literature 1-5 months
Assessment of the Literature (Two Stages) 1-5 months
Data Collection 1-7 months
Analysis 1-3 months
Preparation of Manuscript 1-10 months


More on systematic reviews in the health sciences