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Systematic Reviews for the Health Sciences: Library Support Services

Tier 1: Consultation and training

Eligibility: NIU-affiliated faculty, fellows, post-docs, students, staff in the College of Health and Human Sciences

Note: Students engaging in a class-project, dissertation, thesis, or capstone project are only eligible for Tier 1 support.

  • Provide advice on research question formulation
  • Assist with database selection
  • Assist with an initial search strategy
  • Provide support training on databases and citation management software

Tier 2: Collaboration and co-authorship

Eligibility: NIU-affiliated faculty, fellows, instructors, staff, post-docs in the College of Health and Human Sciences

Note: Tier 2 support dependent upon librarian's availability.

As co-author, librarians fulfill the ICMJE criteria for authorship.

  • Collaborate on formulating research question
  • Search for previously published systematic reviews on topic
  • Collaborate on development and documentation of search protocol
  • Create search strategies, search filters, translate search strategies
  • Execute search strategies
  • Maintain necessary documentation of search results
  • Assist in deduplication of search results
  • Draft relevant portion of search methods section
  • Rerun final search for review update
  • Review the manuscript prior to submission

Librarians do not assist with:

  • Team management, including supervising or delegating work to student workers or research assistants
  • Hand searching literature
  • Screening citations for eligibility (inclusion and exclusion criteria)
  • Data extraction
  • Meta-analysis

Presentations and Workshops

Available upon request:

  • Managing and Completing a Systematic Review
    • Theory
    • Workshop (software and tools)
  • Advanced searching in databases
    • Developing searches
    • Translating search syntax


Librarian availability may impact response time or availability of Tier 2 services.

Both tiers of services are provided at no cost to the research team.  


If you are interested in either service tier, please contact Betsy Sterner, Health Sciences Librarian, Please include the following information:

  • Name, status (e.g., NIU faculty, NIU Undergraduate)
  • Names of all team members and roles (e.g., principal investigator, project manager, study screener, data extractor)
  • Research question
  • If known, have other reviews, including systematic reviews, been published on this topic? If yes, please list.
  • If available, please share 3-10 gold standard articles (highly relevant to your topic and match your research question as well as inclusion and exclusion criteria)
  • Please list any keywords or MeSH terms that could be useful
  • Have you developed any inclusion and exclusion criteria? If yes, please list
  • If already drafted, please include your protocol
  • If known, which citation management software will you use?
  • If known, which software will you use to blind screen the search results?