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Faking It 'Til We Make It: Libraries Supporting Researchers in Systematic and Scoping Reviews

Johnson, Anna Marie; Denneler, Alyssa; Minix, Amy

Medical and health sciences librarians have been participating in supporting their communities of researchers with systematic reviews for over two decades (Boynton, 1998; McKibbon, 1998). Now systematic and related types of literature reviews which attempt to analyze the literature on a particular research question in a repeatable and transparent way are gaining momentum and popularity in other science and social sciences fields. Researchers are using them to ascertain the best and most effective interventions across fields such as public health, biology, education, social work, and political science. In many ways, this type of research is exactly what libraries have been waiting for and it often makes excellent use of library resources; however, supporting this work can also require significant library personnel time, a high level of database searching skills, depth of subject knowledge, and skills with specialized software. The process or the review type itself is sometimes prone to being deeply misunderstood by the researchers most wanting to undertake them. Are academic librarians prepared to provide the necessary and intensive assistance with this type of research? What does this assistance look like and what kinds of professional development is needed?

This session will provide an overview of the current state of systematic and scoping review support among academic libraries in the United States. It will also present the case study of the efforts of a small group of librarians attempting to build their own support community in a large research institution. This case study will examine how librarians can scale this type of research support and offer assistance even when they don’t feel entirely comfortable or equipped to do so.

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