Environmental scan and evaluation of best practices for online systematic review resources

Robin M. N. Parker, Leah Boulos, Sarah Visintini, Krista Ritchie, Jill Hayden


Objective: Online training for systematic review methodology is an attractive option due to flexibility and limited availability of in-person instruction. Librarians often direct new reviewers to these online resources, so they should be knowledgeable about the variety of available resources. The objective for this project was to conduct an environmental scan of online systematic review training resources and evaluate those identified resources.

Methods: The authors systematically searched for electronic learning resources pertaining to systematic review methods. After screening for inclusion, we collected data about characteristics of training resources and assigned scores in the domains of (1) content, (2) design, (3) interactivity, and (4) usability by applying a previously published evaluation rubric for online instruction modules. We described the characteristics and scores for each training resource and compared performance across the domains.

Results: Twenty training resources were evaluated. Average overall score of online instructional resources was 61%. Online courses (n=7) averaged 73%, web modules (n=5) 64%, and videos (n=8) 48%. The top 5 highest scoring resources were in course or web module format, featured high interactivity, and required a longer (>5hrs) time commitment from users.

Conclusion: This study revealed that resources include appropriate content but are less likely to adhere to principles of online training design and interactivity. Awareness of these resources will allow librarians to make informed recommendations for training based on patrons’ needs. Future online systematic review training resources should use established best practices for e-learning to provide high-quality resources, regardless of format or user time commitment.


Systematic Reviews; E-Learning; Instructional Design; Evaluation; Environmental Scan

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/jmla.2018.241


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