Review Service Guidelines

Demand for this service is high. While we will respond to your request relatively quickly, it may be several weeks from the time we agree on a protocol before we could complete any searching on your behalf.

We provide support for literature-based projects as our time and resources allow. Project requests are reviewed as they come in and assigned to a member of the research and instruction team based on availability. Countway Library of Medicine has an inter-library arrangement with our affiliate institution librarians for our Review Service. This policy is designed to facilitate collaboration between our professional colleagues and investigators from all HMS Affiliate Institutions.

Formal reviews are a lot of work. Including creating the protocol, building and running a quality search, collecting all the papers, evaluating the studies that meet the inclusion criteria and extracting and analyzing the summary data, a well done review can require dozens to hundreds of hours of work that can span several months. A systematic review requires subject expertise, statistical support and a librarian to help design and run the search. Moreover, all guidelines for carrying out systematic reviews recommend that at least two subject experts screen the studies identified in the search. A systematic review is a labor-intensive team effort.

Who can request librarian collaboration through the review service?

  • Anyone who holds a valid faculty, staff, or student Harvard ID
  • The lead investigator for the project must hold a Harvard faculty ID
    • Exception – the project is required for completion of a Harvard degree
  • Harvard email holder
    • *
      • E.g. OR

What types of projects will we support?

  • Research projects for publications funded through Harvard (including NIH grants)
  • Grant applications
  • Theses, dissertations, and capstones
  • Projects partnering with for-profit companies will be reviewed on a case by case basis
  • We will not be able to work on multiple projects sponsored by the same PI concurrently
  • We can not support the production of practice guidelines because of the heavy time commitment required

What to expect in your initial consultation

  • Talk about the scope of your research question or mediated search
  • Discuss alignment of intended type of review with research question
  • Talk about protocol (when applicable)
  • Overall project timeline for creating search iterations, translating across databases, and time to do review, analysis, and manuscript writing
  • Project management plan and delivery of citations
  • Co-authorship or acknowledgement agreement

Levels of Service

Service Level Librarian Authorship Deliverables Effort (Average Hours)
Level I: Consultation & PubMed Search Acknowledgement
  • Initial hour-long consultation
  • Develop a PubMed search strategy with suggested controlled vocabulary and keyword selections
  • Identification and suggestion of other databases for extending search
  • Advice on citation and project management tools
3-4 hours
Level II: Review Service Co-authorship

Level I deliverables plus:

  • Translation of PubMed search strategy into other databases using controlled vocabularies and keyword selections
  • Providing guidance on searching the grey literature
  • Mediated search documentation
  • Assistance developing the protocol
  • Delivery of citation results
  • Authoring literature search methodology for the final manuscript
  • Reviewing the final manuscript before submission

We require a completed protocol before we can begin running searches for you (level II service). You may submit a request without a protocol, though we welcome one if it is already complete or in draft form. You can use this template to begin your protocol.

10 + hours

If you are prepared to make your request, please complete our Review Service mediated search form.