Skip to Main Content

Sherrod Library News

Systematic Reviews, Publications, and the Health Sciences at the Sherrod Library

by Sarah Bull on 2024-02-26T11:25:13-05:00 | 0 Comments

For those who, like me, are not science minded, I think it’s prudent to begin this article with an overview of terms. In all fields, but particularly within medicine, there exist several different methods for knowledge synthesis, all designed to satisfy various and unique research needs. Systematic reviews, for example, are designed to summarize the findings of many different studies on the same topic, while scoping reviews examine the breadth and depth of literature on emerging topics. In both cases, the analysis and retrieval of material differs from that of a typical literature review as all levels of the process are standardized and ensure that found content related to a given topic is systematically searched and included within the review. 

Christiana Keinath, Health Sciences Librarian, serves as the Sherrod Library’s resident expert on both systematic and scoping reviews. In December 2023 she, alongside several other co-authors, was published in The International Journal of Behavioral Medicine with the article, “Community Engagement in International Medicine, a Scoping Review.” She and I sat down to discuss this experience and the role of a librarian in the review process. 

“One of my favorite things about this project was getting to learn about new aspects of healthcare research,” Keinath said. “I was one of two librarians on this project, [the other being from a different university] and I had the opportunity to learn a lot throughout the whole process.” 

As a librarian, one of the key roles Keinath played was within the search process. In a scoping review, all research related to the study’s topic is considered, including posters, presentations, and other, less-formal mediums. Because scoping reviews often deal with emerging topics, language used to describe that topic may not be standardized, and while other studies may deal in some way with the same topic, they often lack language to indicate that in the title, or abstract. This can make it very difficult for a basic keyword search to turn up these related items, though relevant. Librarians, with expert search knowledge, can assist in ensuring that materials found throughout the review process truly hold up to the processes’ guidelines. 

An open line of communication further ensures that the review process follows all the standard best practices, and that the research being done encompasses all the work published or presented on the topic. “I enjoyed going to our regular meetings and being part of the research team,” Keinath explained. “One thing I learned was that communication is really key when working on a group research project.” 

As reviews explode in popularity, librarians can act as guiding hands for those new to the process. If you’re working on a team review project, consider consulting with one to ensure your review  

 Add a Comment



Enter your e-mail address to receive notifications of new posts by e-mail.


  Return to Blog
This post is closed for further discussion.