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Report on Systematic Review Workshop: The Nuts and Bolts for Librarians in Pittsburgh, PA

Posted by on December 2nd, 2015 Posted in: Advocacy, Funding, Training


by Lee Luniewski, Medical Librarian
Melisa Reasner McGuire Health Sciences Library
Scripps Mercy Hospital
San Diego, CA

With assistance from a professional development award received from NN/LM PSR, I was able to attend the Systematic Review Workshop: The Nuts and Bolts for Librarians held at the University of Pittsburgh on November 16-18, 2015. This 2.5 day workshop was designed to help educate librarians on the systematic review process and prepare them to become involved with this type of research. Over the course of the workshop, the five amazing instructors covered everything related to systematic reviews, including the reference interview, study design, bias, term harvesting, grey literature, documentation and much more. This workshop was an in-depth crash course on a librarian’s role with systematic reviews. By the end of the workshop, the 25 attendees had a solid foundation of knowledge that would help them conduct future systematic reviews.

As a relatively new librarian, this was my first exposure to attending a Medical Library Association workshop. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised to see the energy and passion of the instructors. It was clear that they all have an expert knowledge of systematic reviews. They were engaging and promoted discussion throughout the workshop. These discussions had a very positive impact on my workshop experience, as I was able to see the instructors’ examples, and also able to hear other librarians explain their own experiences.

I chose to attend this workshop because systematic reviews have become more and more prevalent within librarianship. I was hoping to gain a solid foundation of knowledge, so that I might be able to take part in systematic reviews at my institution. One of the major concepts that I took out of the workshop was the idea of thinking more systematically while conducting research. Thinking systematically allows me to create more comprehensive searches and explore other avenues of literature. Another aspect that was very helpful was the fact that the instructors used a real-world systematic review inquiry as a working example. We got to work on most aspects of the review over the next 2.5 days. I am a hands-on learner, and this portion of the workshop was exactly what I hoped for. It allowed me to see how you put theories into practice and the significance of each process to the overall systematic review.

After the workshop, I believe I have the skills and knowledge to actively participate in a systematic review. It was made clear that these are large research projects, and I should not underestimate the amount of work and time that will be required from start to finish. In addition, I believe this workshop has taught me how to assess the quality of previous systematic reviews, how to successfully navigate a reference interview, and how to harvest and test terms. This workshop will have a positive impact on my daily duties as a medical librarian and has given me the confidence to actively participate in future systematic reviews.

I would recommend this workshop for anyone who doesn’t have previous training in systematic reviews. The instructors are clearly experts in their field and have a deep passion for teaching others about systematic reviews. This workshop provides a foundation of knowledge about the systematic review process from start to finish. The instructors truly make this workshop engaging, and they do not hesitate to answer questions. After the workshop, I now have the confidence to handle a patron who walks in asking about getting assistance conducting a systematic review!

Image of the author ABOUT Alan Carr
Alan Carr is the Associate Director, National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Pacific Southwest Region, based at UCLA.

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This project is funded by the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, under Cooperative Agreement Number UG4LM012341 with the UCLA Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library.

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