A Proposal for Certification of Librarians
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A Proposal for Certification of Librarians as Partners in Systematic Reviews Pamela C. Sieving¹, Kay Dickersin², Roberta Scherer2, & Ann-Margaret Ervin2¹National Institutes of Health, Bethesda USA ²US Cochrane Center, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore USA

  • Core Competencies: [draft]

  • Expert searching skills

  • Common and less-frequently-used bibliographic databases

  • Content; search functions; indexing

  • Sources for grey literature

  • Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials

  • Knowledge of evidence-based medicine/practice principles

  • The evidence pyramid

  • Study designs

  • Commonly used statistics for data analysis

  • Knowledge of systematic review process and reporting requirements

  • Study design

  • Protocol development and registration

  • Literature searches

  • Screening retrieved citations

  • Data extraction and analysis


  • Skills in using and teaching use of bibliographic file management systems

  • Setting up libraries

  • Modifying data fields

  • Transferring records from databases, other files

  • Deduplication and other clean-up procedures

  • Preparation of manuscripts and bibliographies

  • Additional knowledge and skill sets needed:

  • Please leave your ideas, using the Post-It notes!!!

  • The Road Ahead:

  • Creation and approval of policy statement on the librarian’s role in systematic reviews. Similar policies exist in the areas of:

  • Consumer Health Information and Patient Education (1996; updated

  • 2011) www.caphis.mlanet.org/chis/librarian.html

  • Patient Safety (2009)

  • www.mlanet.org/government/positions/patient-safety.html

  • Telemedicine (nd)

  • www.mlanet.org/government/positions/telemedicine.html

  • Approval of preparation program proposal and text of

  • certification document

  • Identification of core competencies and appropriate MLA

  • and non-MLA coursework and learning experiences

  • toward those competencies

  • Sample MLA Coursework:

  • Becoming an expert searcher (4/8 hours)

  • EBM: introduction to study design and critical appraisal (4 hours)

  • Evidence based medicine: the essentials (4 hours)

  • Finding evidence-based results in PubMed (1 hour)

  • Introduction to Systematic Reviews for Librarians (4 hours)

  • Leveraging librarians’ skills in searching and critical appraisal for systematic reviews (4 hours)

  • Short course in statistical literacy for medical librarians: swimming in a

  • sea of conflicting medical claims (4 hours)

  • Supporting systematic reviews: the basics (4 hours)

  • Supporting systematic reviews: beyond the basics (6 hours)

  • Systematic review workshop: the nuts and bolts for librarians (20 hours)

  • Systematic reviews: the role of the librarian (6 hours)

  • Resources beyond MLA: The Cochrane Collaboration

  • Understanding Evidence-based Health Care: A Foundation for Action

  • Online; 6 hours

  • Translating Critical Appraisal of a Manuscript into Meaningful Peer

  • Review Online; 10 lectures

  • Workshop on Developing a Cochrane Systematic Review

  • On site; 20 hours

  • Objectives:

  • To present rationale for and development of a program to certify

  • librarians as knowledgeable, skilled partners in preparation of

  • systematic reviews (SRs)

  • Identification of relevant studies to include in an SR is arguably the most

  • important aspect of a high quality SR

  • This accords a major responsibility to librarians

  • Certification of expertise enhances credibility and visibility

  • Methods:

  • We describe a set of core competencies for SR certification, and a

  • proposed course of study to achieve these competencies

  • Preparation of an SR requires knowledge of the history and principles of

  • evidence-based medicine; conduct of systematic reviews; and critical

  • reading and appraisal skills

  • Unique skills contributed by libraries include database selection and

  • expert searching, including:

    • Use of validated search strategies

    • Knowledge of reporting biases and ways to address that

    • Knowledge of grey literature and resources beyond

    • those typically searched to answer clinical questions

    • Project management skills

    • Bibliographic file managementexpertise

    • Access to professional networks and continuing

    • education

  • Results:

  • Resources with which to master the core competencies and continually update skills and knowledge bases are increasingly available, and in formats accessible globally

  • IOM Standards for Systematic Reviews (2011)

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

  • Finding What Works in Health Care: Standards for Systematic Reviews

  • www.iom.edu/Reports/2011/Finding-What-Works-in-Health-Care-Standards-for-Systematic-Reviews/Standards.aspx

  • Additional contributors and collaborators welcome; contact pamsieving@nih.gov

Loyola Health Sciences Library

  • PRISMA: Preferred Reporting Items for

  • Systematic Reviews & Meta-Analyses

And there are more…

2013 MLA One Health: Information in an Interdependent World