VCU Libraries

Research Guides

Systematic Reviews

Guide that helps users to understand what a systematic review entails, as well as provide resources to do one.

Systematic Reviews at the Tompkins-McCaw Library

The Institute of Medicine Standards for Systematic Reviews recommend working with a librarian during the following steps of a systematic review:

3.1.1 Work with a librarian or other information specialist trained in performing systematic reviews to plan the search strategy

3.1.2 Design the search strategy to address each key research question

3.1.3 Use an independent librarian or other information specialist to peer review the search strategy

Engaging with librarians while conducting systematic reviews has also been suggested as a way to increase the overall quality of the review (Rethlefsen 2014, 2015).

Librarians at the Tompkins-McCaw Library support students and researchers at VCU conducting systematic reviews through two tiers of service (See "Tiers of Service" below). These services range from basic training (Tier 1) to a higher levels of involvement that comes with the expectation of co-authorship (Tier 2) (see "Authorship").

Tiers of Service

Contact Information

Tier 1 Services:
Email with "Systematic review help" in the subject
(804) 828-0636
Tier 2 Services:
Submit a request via this form.


The expectation of authorship for librarians providing Tier 2 services is based on the belief that activities such as developing, executing, and managing results from the search as well as drafting of details in the methods section satisfy the four requirements for authorship recommended by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors:

  1. Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work
  2. Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content
  3. Final approval of the version to be published
  4. Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.