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Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses: Help & Training

This guide is designed to help novice and experienced review teams navigate the systematic review and/or meta-analysis process

ESS

The Evidence Synthesis Services (ESS) Team at the University Libraries is here to help!

Scroll down for workshops, recordings, and evidence synthesis training opportunities!


Support

The ESS Team is available for three levels of support:

Level 1: Consultation
  • about 3 consultations per project
  • basic methodological advice (help you find options)
  • suggest resources and tools
  • connect to available training and workshops

Level 2: Mentorship (with Acknowledgement)
  • ongoing guidance 
  • provide support for protocol development
  • methodological guidance (help you follow guidelines selected)
  • provide support for resources and tools (one-on-one training)
  • detailed feedback, troubleshooting, and suggestions for enhancements on search strategy 

Level 2 support requires that library employee is acknowledged in final manuscript; Level 2 is not available for class assignments; Level 2 is available based on staffing capacity


Level 3: Partnership (with Authorship)
  • in-depth collaboration
  • contribute to protocol development
  • set up Covidence project
  • responsible for developing the comprehensive search strategy with input from the team
  • running searches 
  • download and deduplicate results 
  • contribute to methods and other portions of the manuscript as appropriate 
  • provide support for file and data management 

Level 3 support requires that library employee is included as an author on final manuscript and other related outputs; Level 3 is not available for student projects (e.g., dissertation, thesis, class assignment); Level 3 is available based on staffing capacity


To request support, book a consultation or email srconsultation-g@vt.edu

In your email, please include:

  1. Your scope (research question and eligibility criteria) and at least two seminal articles.
  2. Whether you have searched for in-progress and/or existing reviews, and if so describe what you found.
  3. The review methodology (or methodologies) that you think fit your scope.
  4. Two to three meeting times that would work well for you during the next 2 weeks.

Education

Literature Review and Synthesis Basics Series (Fall)

Introductory sessions for those who want to learn more about evidence synthesis approaches that can be applied generally. These sessions are held every fall semester and the most recent recordings are posted on this page (below).

Search the Library Events Calendar for upcoming "Evidence Synthesis" workshops!

Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Deep Dive (January)

This 4-day workshop is meant for those who want to learn more and gain hands-on experience with the systematic review and/or meta-analysis process. Intended audience is those with some familiarity of the systematic review and meta-analysis process who aim to start their own review in the near future. Recordings are only distributed to participants (not registrants).

Additional Offerings (as requested)

By request, the ESS team provides in-class instruction (e.g., one-off, embedded), instruction tailored to a specific audience, and other educational opportunities. Reach out!

Recordings & On-Demand Support

Evidence Synthesis Reviews 101 (Fall 2021)

Evidence synthesis (ES) reviews are comprehensive, rigorous reviews of information and often serve as the foundation of evidence-based decision making. ES review approaches include systematic, rapid, restricted, and scoping reviews. By the end of this 1.5 hour session, you’ll be able to describe the different types of evidence synthesis reviews, describe the general steps required in an evidence synthesis review, be familiar with guidelines and tools, and consider whether these approaches are appropriate for your research goals and / or question(s).

  

Comprehensive Searches for Literature Reviews (Fall 2021)

Conducting a comprehensive literature review can be overwhelming - but there are approaches and resources that can make this process easier. Join us for this 1.5 hour workshop where we’ll discuss approaches to identifying essential information sources (e.g., academic databases) and designing a comprehensive search strategy. While this systematic approach comes from evidence synthesis review methods, it is transferable to any literature review.

Literature Review Tricks & Tools (Fall 2021)

Where do you go to search; how can you stay organized; how can you access something the library doesn’t have in its collections; and how can you be alerted to new studies that have just come out?  In this 1.5 hour session, we’ll introduce you to tricks and helpful tools that address these questions.

Critically Appraising Literature for Evidence Synthesis Reviews 101 (Fall 2021)

Critical appraisal is a universally useful skill, applicable during a literature review, while assessing an article you’ve found. In this 1.5 hour session, we’ll introduce you to why critical appraisal is important , specifically in the context of evidence synthesis reviews. Participants will be introduced to several critical appraisal tools to evaluate the risk of bias in individual studies and larger evidence synthesis reviews. We’ll also discuss how you may consider approaching critical appraisal in your own review, including how to find and create appropriate risk of bias tools.

 

Introduction to Covidence 101

Recording here

The Covidence Team presents 2021 updates to ESS Library Team

The Basics of Covidence

Sign up here!

Watch this video at your own pace to learn about the systematic review software, “Covidence”. Whether you’re conducting a full systematic review, or just have a large number of references to review, this software will help streamline and keep track of the process. You’ll receive PDN credit for watching the videos and completing the quiz.

Open Access & Evidence Synthesis (Fall 2021)

This session will begin with a discussion on how open access supports several aspects of the evidence synthesis process. We’ll explore the value of having open access sources to include in the synthesis itself and some challenges that must be overcome when searching and accessing sources that require institutional access or are fee-based. We will also address ways to utilize open access repositories (such as VTechWorks and Open Science Framework) to make your synthesis more transparent so that others can properly evaluate, replicate, or use your synthesis. Additionally, we will hear cases from folks who have used open access resources or repositories as a means to support their evidence synthesis projects. Panelist include:

  • Dr. Sofia Rincon Gallardo Patino, Regional consultant on Nutrition and Physical Activity at the Pan American Health Organization
  • Dr. Linbing Wang, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Virginia Tech [unfortunately Dr. Wang was unable to attend this session]
  • Dr. Anne Brown, Assistant Professor, Science Informatics Consultant at the University Libraries at Virginia Tech
  • Dr. Ryan Stewart, Associate Professor, School of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Virginia Tech

Grey Literature 101 (Spring 2021)

Training outside VT

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) | Training Modules for the Systematic Reviews Methods Guide

American Institutes for Research (AIR) | meta-analysis, systematic reviews, and other evidence synthesis approaches (MOSAIC)

Campbell Collaboration | recorded workshops, training, presentations

Cochrane Collaboration | Interactive LearningCovidence Training

Collaboration for Environmental Evidence | trainingwebinars

Covidence | Covidence Academy

Collaborations

Collaborations in Evidence Synthesis

On the next tabs, we've curated links for several collaborations relevant to evidence synthesis in different fields.


What are they?

Collaborations in Evidence Synthesis are groups of researchers, librarians, information professionals, statisticians, etc. who conduct or support the conduct of evidence synthesis reviews. These groups tend to focus on a specific discipline - for example, the Cochrane Collaboration only produces and supports reviews related to health and medicine. Use the tabs in this box to explore some collaborations by discipline.


Why are they important?

These collaborations cross national boarders and have the power to connect you to a wider community of synthesis and knowledge translation professionals in your field. Often, evidence synthesis collaborations will also manage the production, review, and updating of discipline-specific guidelines and expectations. Although the basic procedures for evidence synthesis methods are respectively similar across disciplines, there are some nuances that discipline-specific collaborations are best suited to address. 


How to get involved

In most cases, it not necessary to be involved with one of these collaborations in order to publish your own review in the field. To publish with a specific collaboration, you will need to adhere to a specific set of standards unique to that collaboration. For example, if you plan to publish with the Campbell Collaboration, they have author requirements such as following MECCIR Conduct and Reporting Standards.

If you are interested in becoming more involved, some collaborations have a standing invitation for volunteer to act as peer reviewers, editors, or serve on sub-committees. 

 

syreaf.org/

Systematic reviews help food manufacturers, veterinarians and other animal health professionals understand the vast volume of scientific research. Originally used in human health, sociology, and education, our group has extensive and unique expertise in conducting systematic reviews in any area related to food, food production and animal. We have worked extensively in food safetyanimal health and animal welfare. We have also numerous publications and video tutorials on how to conduct reviews.

 

environmentalevidence.org/

An open community of stakeholders working towards a sustainable global environment and the conservation of biodiversity. CEE seeks to promote and deliver evidence syntheses on issues of greatest concern to environmental policy and practice as a public service.

 

Effective Health Care (EHC) Program

effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov

The Effective Health Care (EHC) Program improves the quality of health care by providing the best available evidence on the outcomes, benefits and harms, and appropriateness of drugs, devices, and health care services and by helping health care professionals, patients, policymakers, and health care systems make informed health care decisions. The EHC Program achieves this goal by partnering with research centers, academic institutions, health professional societies, consumer organizations, and other stakeholders to conduct research, evidence synthesis, evidence translation, dissemination, and implementation of research findings.


 cochrane.org

We are an independent, diverse, global organization that collaborates to produce trusted synthesized evidence, make it accessible to all, and advocate for its use. Our work is internationally recognized as the benchmark for high-quality information about the effectiveness of health care.


 

jbi.global

JBI is an international research organisation based in the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Adelaide, South Australia. JBI develops and delivers unique evidence-based information, software, education and training designed to improve healthcare practice and health outcomes.

 

campbellcollaboration.org/

The Campbell Collaboration is an international social science research network that produces high quality, open and policy-relevant evidence syntheses, plain language summaries and policy briefs.

 

eppi.ioe.ac.uk/cms/Default.aspx?tabid=53

The EPPI-Centre is committed to informing policy and professional practice with sound evidence. As such, it is involved in two main areas of work:

  1. Systematic reviews: This includes developing methods for systematic reviews and research syntheses, conducting reviews, supporting others to undertake reviews, and providing guidance and training in this area. 
     
  2. Research use: This includes studying the use/non-use of research evidence in personal, practice and political decision-making, supporting those who wish to find and use research to help solve problems, and providing guidance and training in this area. 

ESS Coordinator

The ESS Team

Professional image of Kiri DeBose
Kiri DeBose

Associate Director, Health Sciences Libraries

Liaison to Veterinary Medicine, Animal & Poultry Sciences, Dairy Sciences, Population Health Sciences

kdebose@vt.edu


 Professional image of Ginny Pannabecker
Virginia (Ginny) Pannabecker

Assistant Dean and Director, Research Collaboration and Engagement

Liaison to Biochemistry, Systems Biology, Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics (BEAM)

vpannabe@vt.edu