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Literature research

Help and advice with literature reviews and systematic reviews

A summary and analysis of the evidence

Do you want to write a systematic review, an article, or a grant application for which a literature review is required? The (medical) information specialists at the University Library are experts at literature reviews and are happy to give you advice, from honing the research question to publishing the finished article. We provide assistance to VU/VUmc researchers and staff from all subject areas. We guarantee quality, and an efficient approach that saves researchers a great deal of time.

Steps in a systematic review

A systematic review provides a summary and an analysis of the evidence from all good scientific studies relating to a predefined research question. The researcher can then use the systematic review to identify and evaluate the evidence.

  • Analysing and refining the research question (using a PICO model, for example).
  • Selecting the search terms and the databases to be consulted.
  • Removing duplicates from the search results obtained from the various databases.
  • Keeping a logbook of the search strategy, to ensure it can be reproduced.
  • Supplying a paragraph on the methodology for the article, as well as tables describing the search strategies.

For what steps can we provide advice?

Naming the information specialist as co-author

The information specialist has final responsibility for the search method. For that reason, we ask that he or she be named as co-author of the systematic review article. After publication, the information specialist will be available to answer questions about the search method.

Quality standards for systematic reviews

The medical information specialists in the University Library conduct systematic reviews according to professional guidelines such as the Cochrane Handbook and the Standards for systematic reviews, IoM. Our contribution is essential, as demonstrated by research from Koffel (2015) and Rethlefsen et al. (2015).
Avoid bias: do not limit to a time frame or language, because this will introduce ‘publication bias’ into the research. See: Cochrane Handbook, 2019.

To ensure good collaboration, we expect researchers to: 

Scheduling an appointment

Download this form, fill it in and email it to to book an appointment.
Make sure you submit your request at least two weeks ahead of time, because of a waiting list. 

The number of scientific publications in which the information specialists at the University Library have been involved in:
•    Named as co-author in 270 publications (2004–2021)
•    Received an acknowledgment in 105 publications (2011–2021)

Our subject librarians

Read the LibGuides and web pages about all subjects or contact one of our subject librarians.

Hans Ket

Coordinator literature research, Subject Librarian Medicine

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George Burchell

Subject Librarian Medicine

Linda Schoonmade

Subject librarian Medicine (literature review, lecturing)

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Ralph de Vries

Subject Librarian Behavioural and Movement Science

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