NEW! Systematic Review Services Specialization
Earning the MLA Systematic Review Services Specialization (SRSS) indicates that you have received training in providing systematic review services and serving on systematic review teams and recognition for the accomplishment of acquiring systematic review services skills.
Level I SRSS launched May 2022. Level II launches in 2023.
The SRSS Pathway: Special Offer Ends December 31, 2022
To make it more affordable to earn your Level I SRSS Certificate, through December 31, 2022, MLA offers the SRSS Level I Learning Pathway: all Level I SRSS required courses and all Level I SRSS MLA on-demand and webinar electives at a discount of over 30% of the total cost of the courses needed to earn the specialization and 50% of the total of all the courses included in the Pathway (and we waive the application fee).
The cost of courses that satisfy the requirements for the SRSS is determined by course owners. Courses offered by the Network of the National Library of Medicine are free.
Why Get Your SRSS?
Acquiring Level I SRSS skills will enable you to play a central role in systematic review projects as a co-investigator with advanced literature searching skills and knowledge of the systematic review process.
Many of the skills that health sciences librarians have traditionally applied to the scholarly literature are relevant to systematic reviews, such as process management, searching, and information management.
Here is a selection of articles on the indispensable role of librarians in conducting systematic reviews:
Foster MJ. Overview of the role of librarians in systematic reviews: From expert search to project manager Journal of European Association of Health Information Librarians (JEAHIL), 2015.
Meert D, Torabi N, Costella J. Impact of librarians on reporting of the literature searching component of pediatric systematic reviews. Journal of the Medical Library Association, 2016.
Metzendorf,M. Why medical information specialists should routinely form part of teams producing high quality systematic reviews – a Cochrane perspective. Journal of EAHIL, 2016.
Rethlefsen ML, Farrell AM, Osterhaus Trzasko LC, Brigham TJ. Librarian co-authors correlated with higher quality reported search strategies in general internal medicine systematic reviews. J Clin Epidemiol. 2015.
Schellinger J, Sewell K, Bloss JE, Ebron T, Forbes C. The effect of librarian involvement on the quality of systematic reviews in dental medicine. PLOS ONE, 2021.
Spencer, Angela J, and Jonathan D Eldredge. Roles for librarians in systematic reviews: a scoping review. Journal of the Medical Library Association, 2018.
Who Is the MLA Systematic Review Services Specialization Designed For?
- Medical librarians and Health Information professionals who wish to acquire and expand skills in providing systematic review services.
- Health sciences librarians who hold or are seeking positions as an informationist, education and research librarian, systematic review services librarian, systematic review service coordinator, or a related position.
New! See a list of current SRSS recipients
Who Created the MLA Systematic Review Services Specialization?
A team of experts on systematic reviews and review services created the Systematic Review Services Specialization competency and identified the courses that serve the Level I certificate.
- Terry Jankowski, AHIP, FMLA (Chair), Librarian Emeritus
- Emily Ginier, Informationist, University of Michigan, Taubman Health Sciences Library
- Margaret Foster, AHIP, Director, Center for Systematic Reviews and Research Syntheses, Texas A&M University, Medical Sciences Library
- Mary Lou Klem, Assistant Director of Advanced Information Support, University of Pittsburgh, Health Sciences Library System
- Mellanye Lackey, AHIP, Director (retired), University of Nevada Las Vegas Health Sciences Library
- Whitney Townsend, Informationist, Taubman Health Sciences Library, University of Michigan
The SRSS was inspired by the article A competency framework for librarians involved in systematic reviews. Two of the co-authors are on the team that created the SRSS.
In 2022, we added members of the Systematic Reviews caucus to the team to ensure that the Specialization remains strong and current. The team supporting the Specialization is:
- Emily Brennan, Research and Education Informationist, Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC)
- Emily Capellari (Ginier), Informationist, University of Michigan, Taubman Health Sciences Library, University of Michigan
- Margaret Foster, AHIP, Director, Center for Systematic Reviews and Research Syntheses, School of Medicine, Texas A&M University
- Heather Healy, Clinical Education Librarian, Hardin Library for the Health Sciences, University of Iowa
- Leila Ledbetter, AHIP, Research and Education Librarian, Medical Center Library & Archives, Duke University
- Traci Mays, Health & Human Services Librarian, Wilson G. Bradshaw University Library, Florida Gulf Coast University
- Stephanie Roth, Medical Librarian, ChristianaCare
- Whitney Townsend, Informationist, Taubman Health Sciences Library, University of Michigan
What Skills Does the SRSS Address?
The SRSS is built upon the Systematic Review Services Competency:
Health and biomedical information professionals with competency in Systematic Reviews use a range of information retrieval and management knowledge and skills to support users and researchers. They promote the use of established guidelines, best practices, ethical synthesis practices, and transparent reporting in the service of high quality, reproducible scientific and biomedical research.
The Systematic Review Competency has two levels, Level I and Level II. Each level has skill indicators organized by topic.
Fundamentals of systematic reviews
1. Explain the major steps in the design and conduct of a systematic review
2. Explain how systematic reviews differ from narrative reviews
3. Explain how systematic reviews inform practice, policy, and research
4. Explain the value of established systematic review guidelines and standards
5. Negotiate involvement in systematic review projects
6. Negotiate recognition of librarian's intellectual contribution to a systematic review
7. Collaborate with researchers to implement effective search strategies
8. Conduct searches to confirm the need for a systematic review
9. Select databases and other resources appropriate to a research question
10. Develop an extensive, effective, systematic, and replicable search strategy for each resource appropriate to a research question
11. Review search strategies under development using the PRESS (Peer Review of Electronic Search Strategies) rubric
Documentation & Reporting
12. Describe planned search methods
13. Document search processes, including search iterations and decision-making
14. Report search methods for publication in conformance with established reporting standards
Data Management I
15. Utilize citation management software
16. Inform researchers about available systematic review software
Level II (under construction)
Data Management II
17. Utilize systematic review software, and data extraction tools
18. Advise teams on selection of systematic review software and data extraction tools
19. Prepare search-related data for deposit or archiving
20. Advise systematic review teams on timelines, team composition, and productivity tools
21. Collaborate with teams on developing systematic review protocols
22. Advise teams on systematic review publication options
23. Implement best practices for establishing, managing, and evaluating systematic review services
Systematic Review Research & Advanced Methodology
24. Match a research question to appropriate evidence synthesis type
25. Explain how systematic reviews differ across scientific disciplines
26. Peer review systematic review manuscripts for publication
27. Critically appraise systematic reviews using risk of bias checklists
28. Advise teams on processes and tools that promote systematic review quality
What is the Cost of the SRSS?
See The SRSS Pathway discount above.
MLA charges a modest fee (members: $55; nonmembers: $75) for reviewing applications and granting certificates. The cost of courses that satisfy the requirements for the certificates is determined by course owners. Note: the fee is waived with the purchase of the SRSS Pathway.
Courses offered by the Network of the National Library of Medicine are free.
What Are the Requirements for Earning an SRSS?
SRSS Level I
- Complete 8 required core courses
- Complete 6 credits of elective courses in any areas you choose
See the Systematic Review Services Course List for the core and elective courses.
You can earn your Level I SRSS with on-demand offerings, with one exception: Essential Searching Skills for Librarians on Systematic Review Teams is only offered face-to-face or as an instructor-led online course because of the need for instructor feedback on search strategies.
SRSS Level II --Under Construction
Time to completion requirements
• You must earn a Level I certificate before you can earn your Level II certificate.
• You have three years to meet the requirements for a Level I certificate, i.e., courses submitted for the specialization must have been taken no more than three years prior to your date of application.
• Your SRSS is valid for three years.
• To keep your SRSS valid, you must take six credits of electives during the three years your SRSS is valid in order to renew your certificate.
Credit for Activities Not Approved for SRSS
If you have taken a course, a Discussion Group activity, or an Independent Reading Program activity that is not approved for SRSS and would like to have it considered for meeting a SRSS requirement, please fill out an Individual Participant Request (IPR) form and submit it with your application. You may request credit for offerings that do not issue certificates of completion.
Applying for Your SRSS
Before submitting your application
- Take the required credit amount and number of approved courses for the SRSS level I.
- Gather evidence that you have completed the required courses.
- If you received a CE certificate for an SRSS course through MEDLIB-ED, you need only list the SRSS course(s) in your application. We will access your transcript to see the SRSS courses you have taken. You can earn your Level I SRSS entirely with offerings in MEDLIB-ED.
- If you have received a certification of completion or other evidence of course completion from an approved SRSS course that is not listed in MEDLIB-ED, submit a certificate of course completion with your application.
- If you have completed a course that is not approved for SRSS, complete an Individual Participant Request (IPR) form to request approval.
If you have questions: Please contact MLA's Professional Development Department before completing your SRSS application or taking a course.
Requesting an application form
- To receive an application, pay the application fee by visiting the MLA Store. The application fee is $55 for MLA members and $75 for non-members.
Completing your application
- After your payment is processed, we will email you a link to the online application.
- Complete the online application and indicate if you would like a letter celebrating your accomplishment sent to your supervisor.
- Upload your certificate(s) and IPR form(s) for each course or activity not on your MEDLIB-ED transcript. To make your application easier, we will access your transcript and check it against the requirements for your level.
MLA will process the application and, on approval, send you a notification letter and certificate recognizing your level of achievement.
We encourage you to Promote Your Accomplishment with a press release your public relations office can publish in your organization’s newsletter and local papers, print and digital. Customize the release to highlight your unique SRSS-related achievements. Post about your accomplishment on social media and use the #medlibSRSS to announce your achievement.
Instructors: Get Your Course Approved for SRSS
Only courses that serve the Systematic Review Services competency can be approved for SRSS. To have your course considered for SRSS, select "Systematic Review Services Specialization" in the Specialization Consideration part of the Submit a Course for MLA CE Approval application form. Contact the MLA's Professional Development Department for more information.