Guidelines for Librarian Support of Systematic and Scoping Reviews

Librarians at the Dentistry Library have expertise in developing and conducting comprehensive searches for review projects in the fields of dentistry and oral healthcare. We are available to assist at all stages of your project, including planning, execution, and reporting.

We offer two different levels of service for librarian support of knowledge syntheses projects, which are described in further detail below.

Option 1: Consultation Only

Librarians are happy to meet for one or more research consultations, during which we can advise and instruct on topics such as: development of the research question, database selection, designing & conducting a comprehensive search, database translation, grey literature searching, citation management, documentation, reporting, and options for publication & dissemination. 

Option 2: Librarian as Member of the Research Team

Including an experienced librarian as a member of your research team is recommended by many organizations that fund and conduct systematic and scoping reviews, such as the Cochrane Collaboration and the Canadian Institutes for Health Research. Partnering with a librarian on your research project has numerous benefits, including improvement in the quality of comprehensive search strategies as well as the overall quality of the review

If you are interested in collaborating with us, please email your librarians with a brief description of the project as well as your protocol and we will get back to you within 2 business days.


Conducting an evidence synthesis study requires a significant time committment for all members of the research team, and most take a minimum of 9 to 12 months to complete. Please note that the entire search process from initial development to final translation and execution in all databases typically takes between 6 - 8 weeks.

Librarian Roles and Responsibilities

Librarians may contribute to any or all of the stages of the review process listed below:

  1. Determining whether a review on the topic has already been conducted or is in process

  2. Establishing a clear, focused research question

  3. Choosing the most appropriate review methodology

  4. Selecting appropriate databases to search

  5. *Developing comprehensive search strategy in consultation with the research team and coordinating peer review using the PRESS guidelines

  6. *Translating and executing the search strategy in relevant databases

  7. *Providing search results in EndNote citation manager and assisting with the use of this software

  8. Advising on methodology for grey literature and/or hand searching

  9. *Documenting search process and results for PRISMA diagram

  10. *Contributing description of search process for the methods section of the manuscript

  11. *Reviewing and editing relevant sections of the manuscript prior to submission

  12. *Addressing peer reviewer comments on search strategy and methods

Librarians who accept responsibility for the steps marked with (*) above provide a substantial contribution to the research project and are entitled to co-authorship in accordance with the ICMJE Recommendations for Defining the Role of Authors and Contributors. Librarians may choose to accept or decline offers of co-authorship.


This service is intended for original research conducted by faculty and staff at the University of Toronto Faculty of Dentistry.

This service is not intended for students completing research for assignments or other course-related research. Students requiring support for research they are conducting as part of their academic requirements may meet with a librarian for a research consultation to receive instruction and support in conducting a comprehensive search of the biomedical literature.

For members of dental organizations and the broader dental community in Canada, please see our Literature Search Service.