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HSLS Systematic Review Program

Thinking About Conducting a Systematic Review? Read This First

We require submission of a detailed review protocol within thirty (30) days of submitting your initial request for assistance.

The protocol undergoes scientific review to determine if it:
1) summarizes the current literature on your topic and explains how the proposed review will build on and add to that literature
2) meets existing standards for the design and conduct of systematic reviews
3) contains the detailed information required for development of thorough and comprehensive literature searches.

After the initial scientific review, you will receive reviewer feedback and questions, and be given the opportunity to revise and re-submit your protocol. Failure to response to reviewer feedback will result in cancellation of the request for assistance.

Due to the large number of requests and protocols we receive each month, and limited librarian availability, average waiting time for protocol reviews or for librarian assistance on approved protocols may be as long as several months.

If you are preparing a grant application, or have received a grant, that includes a plan to conduct a comprehensive review, contact the HSLS Systematic Review Program directly at to discuss salary support for librarian work on your project. Please note that, while we will make every effort to do so, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to adhere to a grant timeline if HSLS was not involved in development of the grant proposal or the timeline.

Further information is available about our requirements for submission.

Thinking About Conducting a Systematic Review? Watch These Videos First

Watch these short videos to understand the issues you'll need to think through before you undertake one of these complex and time-intensive research projects.

Setting Expectations for a Systematic Review

Determine if a Systematic Review is Feasible (part 1)

Determine if a Systematic Review is Feasible (part 2)

PowerPoint versions of part 1 and part 2 (includes clickable links to supporting materials)

How HSLS Librarians Can Help

Assistance during the development stage

  • Find existing systematic reviews on your topic

  • Recommend literature databases and grey literature sources

  • Develop search-related sections of the protocol

  • Provide recommendations on management of references

Searching expertise

  • Construct the primary literature search and translating it for use in additional databases

  • Find and use validated methodology filters

  • Save searches so they are available for updating search results


  • Save and document search strings and search strategies in accordance with PRISMA Standards

Acquisition of full text articles

  • Provide advice and guidance on accessing full text resources in University of Pittsburgh library collections

  • Advise on use of HSLS Document Delivery to obtain items not available from university collections

Inclusion as co-author on project publications

  • Planning and creating comprehensive search strategies constitutes a scholarly contribution

  • Assist in manuscript preparation, including development of sections on information sources and final search strategies

  • Provide input and recommendations on journal choice and drafts of papers and abstracts

Request Assistance with a Systematic Review

Complete this form. Please note:

  • You must submit a detailed protocol within thirty (30) days of submitting your request for assistance
  • Your protocol will be reviewed by HSLS librarians and you will likely be required to make revisions
  • The HSLS SR Program may decline a request for assistance due to limited librarian availability, concerns about project feasibility, or failure to address reviewer comments or requests for revision