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CMSRU Evidence Synthesis Service: Introduction

Work with a librarian on your next systematic or scoping review project.

What is Evidence Synthesis?

Evidence synthesis "is a type of research method that allows researchers to bring together all relevant information on a research question". (London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Centre for Evaluation)

Evidence synthesis methodology, which can produce systematic reviews, scoping reviews, rapid reviews, and other types of projects, differ from narrative reviews, which are often authored by experts in a field and are generally narrative summaries of a topic.

Before beginning an evidence synthesis project:

  • Clarify your review topic
  • Decide if a systematic review is the best approach to answer the question
  • Determine if you have the necessary time and resources
  • Form a review team (this is not a solo activity!)
  • Expect a slow and lengthy process

CMSRU Evidence Synthesis Service

Are you planning a systematic, scoping, or other review project? Librarians at the CMSRU Library are experts in conducting comprehensive literature searches as part of the evidence synthesis process.

After the initial consultation, in which the project's aims and scope are discussed, the librarian typically:

  • Determines if an existing systematic review has already answered your research question
  • Decides which sources to search (e.g. databases, grey literature)
  • Collaborates with researchers to develop appropriate search strategies to ensure that all relevant studies are identified
  • Conducts the literature search and removes duplicate records
  • Delivers search results
  • Writes the search methodology for your manuscript
  • Re-runs the literature search before submitting the manuscript

Librarians keep detailed records throughout the process to ensure transparency.

For questions about the systematic review service, please contact

Tiered Service Levels

In an effort to provide the highest levels of service and quality to the entire community, we have broken our services into two user options. Please note that Tier Two requires librarian co-authorship. Covidence is only available to Tier Two participants.

Tier One Acknowledgement
  1. Initial meeting
  2. Review intake form determining if the project is systematic review vs. other type of review (e.g., protocol review, narrative review, literature review for grant application, etc.)
  3. Develop a basic search to determine the project's likely viability
  4. Search for already existing protocols on your project idea
  5. Identification and suggestion of other databases to user for extending search
  6. Advise on citation management and article appraisal tools
3 hours
Tier Two
  1. All steps carried out in Tier One level of service above.
  2. Identification of all appropriate databases
  3. Creation of final, peer-reviewed search strategies in multiple databases
  4. Grey Literature searching
  5. Storage and management of citations in citation management tool such as EndNote
  6. Thorough deduplication of results
  7. Uploading project documents into a Project Management software, typically the Open Science Framework.
  8. Uploading deduplicated citations into a Covidence
  9. Assistance with PRISMA flowchart
  10. Writing of the search methods section + search strategy appendix for both the initial protocol and final manuscript.
  11. More in-depth collaboration on additional parts of the project (e.g., writing other parts of the manuscript, help with journal selection, providing additional input/support with the systematic review process)
20+ hours

Adapted from Stanford University, Lane Medical Library "Lit Search Agreement" Form