Peer-review of systematic review search strategies
You can now have your systematic review search strategy peer-reviewed by a Librarian. The peer-review is based on the Peer-Review for Electronic Search Strategies (PRESS) guidance, which is recommended by PRISMA. This service is free and is available to any current student or member of staff via ServiceDesk.
To submit a search for peer-review, you just need to complete the form on ServiceDesk, providing details of your search EXACTLY as you entered it into the database and other related information about your systematic review.
Library staff will aim to complete the peer-review within 5 working days (this may depend on workloads, but you will be kept informed of any changes). Please submit your search strategy to us in good time BEFORE you start screening your results this is in case your search requires revisions.
This service has been developed in response to a study completed by Library staff which showed only 3% of the School’s published systematic reviews met quality and reporting standards for search strategies. When this was discussed at departmental meetings, peer-review was suggested as a way to improve School methods.
Other support for Systematic Review literature searches
The new peer-review service compliments existing services available to systematic reviewers from Library staff:
Help and support to create, run and record your searches.
If you are a member of staff or a student, you can meet with an experienced Librarian to discuss your search. Complete the form on ServiceDesk to arrange a time to meet either in person or via Skype.
Sub-contract a librarian to construct, run and record your searches for you.
If you are a member of staff, you can also sub-contract a Librarian to collaborate with you and the rest of your review team. To send us preliminary details of your review, complete the ‘Request a collaboration’ form. We will get back to you to discuss costs and timescales. This service is subject to capacity within the Library team. You can also deposit your systematic review search strategy in DataCompass. This allows you to provide a reference and DOI for your search in your manuscript.
Librarians can help you in a wide variety of systematic review tasks, and it has been shown that our specialist skills improve the quality of systematic reviews. Get in touch via ServiceDesk to see how we can help you.
References & further reading
 McGowan J, et al. PRESS Peer Review of Electronic Search Strategies: 2015 Guideline Statement. J Clin Epidemiol. 2016;75:40-6.
 Shamseer L, et al. Preferred reporting items for systematic review and meta-analysis protocols (PRISMA-P) 2015: elaboration and explanation. BMJ. 2015;349, p 10 of 25.
 Due to capacity within the Library team, students are restricted to one peer review per project.
 This may be extended in May and June due to increased demand from MSc students.
 Contact for further details.
 Spencer AJ, Eldredge JD. Roles for librarians in systematic reviews: a scoping review. J Med Libr Assoc. 2018;106(1):46-56.
 Rethlefsen ML, et al. Librarian co-authors correlated with higher quality reported search strategies in general internal medicine systematic reviews. J Clin Epidemiol. 2015;68:617-26.