Knowledge syntheses in engineering and computer science

Engineering & Computer Science Library librarians may be available for consultations regarding learning about comprehensive searching for knowledge synthesis (KS) projects like systematic reviews and scoping reviews. Our consultations are education focused with the aim of helping you develop skills in comprehensive searching which are essential to conducting a knowledge synthesis.

Please fill out our consultation form and we will strive to be in touch with you within 5 business days regarding your request.

While many organizations that fund and oversee systematic reviews recommend or require having a librarian on your research team, librarians at Engineering & Computer Science Library are not able to participate on research teams at this time.

Consultations may include topics such as:

  • Pointing you to resources on how to conduct a KS (e.g., a good starting point is Gerstein’s Knowledge Synthesis guide)
  • Identifying relevant databases for searches
  • Assistance in identifying key concepts
  • Instruction on how to combine relevant search terms and configuring search questions
  • Instruction on how to do comprehensive searches in databases (e.g., creating accounts to save your searches and set alerts, using controlled vocabularies and filters, using help menus, formulating searches with syntax, forward and back-wards searching, exporting references).
  • Showing you where you can find keyword suggestions in databases
  • Tips on how to troubleshoot your searches
  • Explaining interlibrary loan and how to get access to full text articles
  • Overview of reference citation management software
  • Suggestions for ways of finding relevant studies (e.g., grey literature)
  • Instruction on the above topics for lab groups, research groups conducting KS or other groups. [NB: if you are an instructor teaching a course and would like instruction on the above topics in your class, please contact your liaison librarian directly.]

At this time, we will unfortunately not be able to provide the following services during consultations:

  • Determine whether a synthesis or protocol on a topic already exists
  • Choose a review methodology for your topic (we can point you to resources that explain the various types of KS, but for methodological guidance you will need to consult your advisor, instructor or Principal Investigator (PI) of the KS)
  • Advice on writing, reviewing or participating in the preparation or development of a protocol (please consult your advisor, instructor or PI)
  • Assistance in writing search methods according to PRISMA or other guidelines
  • Develop or document methodologies or provide advice on methodology standards
  • Develop and structure searches, develop an exhaustive list of keywords for a key concept, translate a search for other databases, execute searches or export results
  • We cannot review search strings in detail or advise whether a search is publication ready
  • Develop and conduct searches in grey literature
  • Assist in writing or reviewing of manuscripts, including methodology sections and respective appendices
  • Advice on tools for appraisal, screening, project management or data management (please consult your advisor, instructor or PI)
  • Advice on estimating timelines or budgets (please consult your advisor, instructor or PI)
  • Training or troubleshooting of citation management software
  • Other services at the discretion of librarian based on their expertise and available time