Impact of librarians on reporting of the literature searching component of pediatric systematic reviews

Deborah Meert, Nazi Torabi, John Costella


Objective: A critical element in conducting a systematic review is the identification of studies. To date, very little empirical evidence has been reported on whether the presence of a librarian or information professional can contribute to the quality of the final product. The goal of this study was to compare the reporting rigor of the literature searching component of systematic reviews with and without the help of a librarian.

Method: Systematic reviews published from 2002 to 2011 in the twenty highest impact factor pediatrics journals were collected from MEDLINE. Corresponding authors were contacted via an email survey to determine if a librarian was involved, the role that the librarian played, and functions that the librarian performed. The reviews were scored independently by two reviewers using a fifteen-item checklist.

Results: There were 186 reviews that met the inclusion criteria, and 44% of the authors indicated the involvement of a librarian in conducting the systematic review. With the presence of a librarian as coauthor or team member, the mean checklist score was 8.40, compared to 6.61 (p<0.001) for reviews without a librarian.

Conclusions: Findings indicate that having a librarian as a coauthor or team member correlates with a higher score in the literature searching component of systematic reviews.


Systematic Review; Librarian; Critical Appraisal; Literature Search; Reporting

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Copyright (c) 2016 Deborah Meert, MLIS, Nazi Torabi, MSc, MLIS, John Costella, DDS, MSc, MLIS

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