Librarians as methodological peer reviewers for systematic reviews: results of an online survey.

TitleLibrarians as methodological peer reviewers for systematic reviews: results of an online survey.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsGrossetta Nardini HK, Batten J, Funaro MC, Garcia-Milian R, Nyhan K, Spak JM, Wang L, Glover JG
JournalResearch integrity and peer review
Date Published2019
AbstractBackground: Developing a comprehensive, reproducible literature search is the basis for a high-quality systematic review (SR). Librarians and information professionals, as expert searchers, can improve the quality of systematic review searches, methodology, and reporting. Likewise, journal editors and authors often seek to improve the quality of published SRs and other evidence syntheses through peer review. Health sciences librarians contribute to systematic review production but little is known about their involvement in peer reviewing SR manuscripts. Methods: This survey aimed to assess how frequently librarians are asked to peer review systematic review manuscripts and to determine characteristics associated with those invited to review. The survey was distributed to a purposive sample through three health sciences information professional listservs. Results: There were 291 complete survey responses. Results indicated that 22% ( = 63) of respondents had been asked by journal editors to peer review systematic review or meta-analysis manuscripts. Of the 78% ( = 228) of respondents who had not already been asked, 54% ( = 122) would peer review, and 41% ( = 93) might peer review. Only 4% ( = 9) would not review a manuscript. Respondents had peer reviewed manuscripts for 38 unique journals and believed they were asked because of their professional expertise. Of respondents who had declined to peer review (32%, = 20), the most common explanation was "not enough time" (60%, = 12) followed by "lack of expertise" (50%, = 10).The vast majority of respondents (95%, = 40) had "rejected or recommended a revision of a manuscript| after peer review. They based their decision on the "search methodology" (57%, = 36), "search write-up" (46%, = 29), or "entire article" (54%, = 34). Those who selected "other" (37%, = 23) listed a variety of reasons for rejection, including problems or errors in the PRISMA flow diagram; tables of included, excluded, and ongoing studies; data extraction; reporting; and pooling methods. Conclusions: Despite being experts in conducting literature searches and supporting SR teams through the review process, few librarians have been asked to review SR manuscripts, or even just search strategies; yet many are willing to provide this service. Editors should involve experienced librarians with peer review and we suggest some strategies to consider.
Alternate JournalRes Integr Peer Rev