Search is a verb: systematic review searching as invisible labor




authorship, librarians, information storage and retrieval, systematic reviews as topic, feminism, work


Invisible labor is a term used by labor economists to describe work that contributes, and is often even necessary, to the economy but largely goes unrecognized and unpaid. Despite the fact that systematic review searching is a significant task for many librarians and knowledge professionals, the search process can be considered a form of invisible labor because it often goes without recognition. This occurs sometimes through not granting authorship to the librarian who performed the intellectual contribution of search development and sometimes through a devaluing of the search process by the choice of language used to describe the search. By using the term search as a passive verb or noun, authors devalue the real intellectual labor involved in searching, which includes decisions related to search terms and combinations, database selection, and other search parameters. This commentary explores the context of how searching is described through the concept of invisible labor.

Author Biography

Amanda Ross-White, Queen's University

Associate Librarian, Bracken Health Sciences Library


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