Category Archives: Spotlight

Systematic Reviews 101: A New Workshop Series at Dana Medical Library

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Systematic reviews are an integral component of evidence-based healthcare, but they can be hard to define. According to the Cochrane Library, a systematic review “is a high-level overview of primary research on a particular research question that tries to identify, select, synthesize and appraise all high quality research evidence relevant to that question in order to answer it.” ( Like all quality research studies, the protocol used to conduct a systematic review must be spelled out in advance to minimize bias and to ensure that the review can be replicated by another group. Because of the rigor involved, systematic reviews can take several months to complete and usually involve two or more researchers. When done correctly, however, they can provide very reliable evidence for health care providers.

A quick search of PubMed shows that approximately 223 healthcare related systematic reviews have been completed here at the University of Vermont and more are ongoing. In an effort to support these projects, Dana Medical Library offered a series of three systematic review workshops this spring:

  • Introduction to Systematic Reviews – led by Donna O’Malley and Gary Atwood, provided an overview of the elements that make up a systematic review and some of the issues that researchers encounter.
  • Searching for Systematic Reviews – led by Donna O’Malley, showed researchers how to find existing systematic reviews for review.
  • Going Gray: How to Find Gray Literature – led by Nancy Bianchi and Gary Atwood, outlined the role that gray literature plays in the systematic review process and reviewed potential sources that researchers can search.

The workshops were attended by faculty members, researchers, and students – many of whom are either at the initial stages of their own systematic review or anticipating one in the not too distant future.

Given the positive reaction to this first round of systematic review workshops, the Reference Librarians at Dana hope to offer them again in the future. Of course, researchers can also contact their liaison for help with their own research in the meantime.

For more information contact Gary Atwood at 656-4488.

Dana Main Desk Expands Roles

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The Main Desk at the Dana Medical Library has expanded its role to be the central point for help, information, and services for the library. It’s not just for checking out books anymore!
The Main Desk, staffed by Lesley Boucher (supervisor), John Printon, Brenda Nelson, Colin McClung and Craig Chalone, with the help of student assistants, can help with ejournal access, finding books, and selecting databases. They can assist you in ordering materials from other libraries and checking out books, media, and print journals. Now, instead of having two help desks, we have one to reduce the uncertainty of who to ask, for any question.

Research Support at the Dana Medical Library

The Main Desk is now the place to arrange to meet with a librarian for in-depth research assistance. Librarians are available on a walk-in basis from 10-4, Monday through Friday. You can also make an appointment with a librarian.

For more information, contact the Main Desk at 656-2200.