Library Workshops Support Important Systematic Reviews

Gray Lit photo

Systematic reviews are an integral component of evidence-based healthcare, but they can be hard to define. According to the Cochrane Library, a systematic review “is a high-level overview of primary research on a particular research question that tries to identify, select, synthesize and appraise all high quality research evidence relevant to that question in order to answer it.” ( Like all quality research studies, the protocol used to conduct a systematic review must be spelled out in advance to minimize bias and to ensure that the review can be replicated by another group. Because of the rigor involved, systematic reviews can take several months to complete and usually involve two or more researchers. When done correctly, however, they can provide very reliable evidence for health care providers.

A quick search of PubMed shows that approximately 223 healthcare related systematic reviews have been completed here at the University of Vermont and more are ongoing. Some most recent examples of these reviews are on topics like Physiological Genomics (J. Hudziak), Diabetes Research (M. Cushman), Clinical Pediatrics (S. Yeager), and Sports and Health (B. Beynnon). In an effort to support these projects, and other like them, Dana Medical Library offered a series of three systematic review workshops this spring:

  • Introduction to Systematic Reviews – led by Donna O’Malley and Gary Atwood, provided an overview of the elements that make up a systematic review and some of the issues that researchers encounter.
  • Searching for Systematic Reviews – led by Donna O’Malley, showed researchers how to find existing systematic reviews as examples.
  • Going Gray: How to Find Gray Literature – led by Nancy Bianchi and Gary Atwood, outlined the role that gray literature plays in the systematic review process and reviewed potential sources that researchers can search.

The workshops were attended by faculty members, researchers, and students – many of whom are either at the initial stages of their own systematic review or anticipating one in the not too distant future.

Given the positive reaction to this first round of systematic review workshops, the Reference Librarians at Dana hope to offer them again in the future. Of course, researchers can also contact their liaison for help with their own research in the meantime. For more information on workshops at Dana, contact Gary Atwood at 656-4488.

Dana to Host Research Support Workshop Series

A workshop series From Funding to Publication will be held in the Dana Medical Library Computer Classroom from September 22 – October 28 on six consecutive Wednesdays and Thursdays from noon to 1 pm.

Through a combination of lectures and hands-on exercises, participants will learn about software, web sites and databases that facilitate finding, managing, and publishing the results of scholarly research. The series is especially appropriate for graduate students, fellows, and junior faculty.

September 22 and 23: Advanced literature review skills. Discover expert search techniques to refine and focus your literature searches. Use MyNCBI to set up automatic e-mail updates, and save searches, bibliographies, and settings.
Instructors: Fran Delwiche and Donna O’Malley, Dana Medical Library

September 29 and 30: Managing references with EndNote. Create a list of references in EndNote, download records from online, add citations to a paper using EndNote and Microsoft Word.  Instructor: Angie Chapple-Sokol, Dana Medical Library

October 6 and 7: Sources and databases beyond PubMed. Explore other high quality databases and data sources in the biomedical sciences.  Instructors: Nancy Bianchi and Donna O’Malley, Dana Medical Library

October 13 and 14: Preparing posters. Learn guidelines for creating legible, attractive, and effective scientific posters. Identify sources of medical images and discuss associated copyright issues.  Instructor: Raj Chawla, Medical Photography, College of Medicine

October 20 and 21: Scholarly publishing. Evaluate approaches to assessing journal quality, determine author’s rights, explore alternative publishing models.  Instructors: Gary Ward, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, and Jeanene Light, Dana Medical Library

October 27 and 28: Identifying funding. Learn to use the grant seeking and grant writing resources available to you at UVM.  Instructor: Hilda Alajajian, Office of Sponsored Programs

Space is limited. To register for these sessions, please contact Donna O’Malley, 656-4415.