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Evidence Synthesis in the Social Sciences

Why Should I Include a Librarian in My Evidence Synthesis Process?

Librarians can be a major asset in the evidence synthesis process, and are associated with higher quality reviews (see Meert, et al. or Rethlefsen, et al.). Consulting with a librarian or including one on your author team is recommended by institutions like JBI and Covidence. You can also get support from the Evidence Synthesis Graduate Specialist. 

Consultation vs. Collaboration?

The NBL Social Sciences Librarian (Julia Maxwell) can offer two tiers of support to fit your project needs: consultation and collaboration. Our evidence synthesis graduate specialist is also available for support. 


The librarian can guide, provide advice, or teach elements of the evidence synthesis process. Some examples of how a librarian might be able to help in a consulting capacity would be to: 

  • Provide information and resources on the evidence synthesis process (for any project, including a literature review, scoping review, or systematic review).
  • Recommend databases, tools, and methods for various stages of your project.
  • Suggest edits or advanced techniques for your search strategy.

(Adapted from Cornell University Libraries' Evidence Synthesis Service Model) 


The librarian can also collaborate with a research team. In this model, the librarian fully joins the review team as a co-author, and is usually responsible for drafting and translating search strategies, and writing the the methods section of an article. 

Please be aware that there is one librarian that provides evidence synthesis services for all social science disciplines at Rutgers, and Systematic Review tasks are time and resource-intensive processes. Therefore, librarian capacity for collaboration is on a limited and case-by-case basis. 


Feel free to Ask Julia if you have any questions about how a librarian can support your evidence synthesis project! 

What's Included?

 Review Step        Tasks  Consultation   Collaboration (on a limited and case-by-case basis)
 Pre-Review  Guidance on ES process, types of reviews, methods, and steps X X
   Searching for completed or upcoming reviews in topic area.  X X
 Development of Eligibility Criteria  Support developing review topic  X X
   Guidance on study types to include/exclude  X X
 Protocol Creation and Registration        Support with protocol registration in OSF, PROSPERO, etc.  X X
 Searching  Guidance on databases for searches  X X
   Instruction on search methods  X X
   Instruction in citation management software use or screening software use  X X
   Creation and translation of search strategy   X
   Documentation of search strategy   X
   Management of search results   X
 Study Selection and Extraction  Data extraction instruction and support  X X
Writing and Publishing  Writing of methods section    X
   Creation of PRISMA diagram   X
  Writing of search strategies for publication   X
   Librarian contributions warrant co-authorship   X

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