Roles for librarians in systematic reviews: a scoping review

J Med Libr Assoc. 2018 Jan;106(1):46-56. doi: 10.5195/jmla.2018.82. Epub 2018 Jan 2.


Objective: What roles do librarians and information professionals play in conducting systematic reviews? Librarians are increasingly called upon to be involved in systematic reviews, but no study has considered all the roles librarians can perform. This inventory of existing and emerging roles aids in defining librarians' systematic reviews services.

Methods: For this scoping review, the authors conducted controlled vocabulary and text-word searches in the PubMed; Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts; and CINAHL databases. We separately searched for articles published in the Journal of the European Association for Health Information and Libraries, Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, the Journal of the Canadian Heath Libraries Association, and Hypothesis. We also text-word searched Medical Library Association annual meeting poster and paper abstracts.

Results: We identified 18 different roles filled by librarians and other information professionals in conducting systematic reviews from 310 different articles, book chapters, and presented papers and posters. Some roles were well known such as searching, source selection, and teaching. Other less documented roles included planning, question formulation, and peer review. We summarize these different roles and provide an accompanying bibliography of references for in-depth descriptions of these roles.

Conclusion: Librarians play central roles in systematic review teams, including roles that go beyond searching. This scoping review should encourage librarians who are fulfilling roles that are not captured here to document their roles in journal articles and poster and paper presentations.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Librarians*
  • Libraries, Medical / statistics & numerical data
  • Library Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Professional Competence*
  • Professional Role*
  • Systematic Reviews as Topic*