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Evidence Synthesis in the Social Sciences


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Social Sciences Librarian

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Julia Maxwell

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

Consultation vs. Collaboration?

The NBL Social Sciences Librarian (Julia Maxwell) can offer two tiers of support to fit your project needs: consultation and collaboration. 


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?

 Role        Tasks  Consultation   Collaboration (on a limited and case-by-case basis)
 Pre-Review  Guidance on ES process, appropriate methods, and steps X X
   Background searching for past and upcoming reviews X X
 Development of Eligibility Criteria  Development and/or refinement of review topic X X
   Guidance on study types to include X X
 Protocol Creation and Registration        Guidance on protocol registration X X
 Searching  Identification of databases for searches X X
   Instruction in search techniques and methods X X
   Training in citation management software use X X
   Creation of search strategy and translation of searches   X
   Documentation of search strategies   X
   Management of search results   X
 Study Selection and Extraction  Guidance on data extraction methods  X X
 Writing and Publishing  Suggestions of journals to target for publication X X
   Drafting of literature search description in "Methods" section   X
   Creation of PRISMA diagram   X
   Drafting of literature search appendix   X
   Review other manuscript sections and final draft   X
   Librarian contributions warrant co-authorship   X

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