Previous research looking at published systematic reviews has shown that their search strategies are often suboptimal and that librarian involvement, though recommended, is low. Confidence in the results, however, is limited due to poor reporting of search strategies the published articles.
To more accurately measure the use of recommended search methods in systematic reviews, the levels of librarian involvement, and whether librarian involvement predicts the use of recommended methods.
A survey was sent to all authors of English-language systematic reviews indexed in the Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE) from January 2012 through January 2014. The survey asked about their use of search methods recommended by the Institute of Medicine, Cochrane Collaboration, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and if and how a librarian was involved in the systematic review. Rates of use of recommended methods and librarian involvement were summarized. The impact of librarian involvement on use of recommended methods was examined using a multivariate logistic regression.
1560 authors completed the survey. Use of recommended search methods ranged widely from 98% for use of keywords to 9% for registration in PROSPERO and were generally higher than in previous studies. 51% of studies involved a librarian, but only 64% acknowledge their assistance. Librarian involvement was significantly associated with the use of 65% of recommended search methods after controlling for other potential predictors. Odds ratios ranged from 1.36 (95% CI 1.06 to 1.75) for including multiple languages to 3.07 (95% CI 2.06 to 4.58) for using controlled vocabulary.
Use of recommended search strategies is higher than previously reported, but many methods are still under-utilized. Librarian involvement predicts the use of most methods, but their involvement is under-reported within the published article.
Koffel JB (2015) Use of Recommended Search Strategies in Systematic Reviews and the Impact of Librarian Involvement: A Cross-Sectional Survey of Recent Authors. PLoS ONE 10(5): e0125931. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0125931
Use of Recommended Search Strategies in Systematic Reviews and the Impact of Librarian Involvement: A Cross-Sectional Survey of Recent Authors.
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