Build your team

Any good systematic review relies on guidance and expertise from a multi-disciplinary team. Here are some of the people who can help you start thinking about your process:

Project lead/methods expert
This person has expertise in the methods for conducting a systematic review and oversees the entire systematic review process. He or she can help you avoid formulating questions that will be difficult to study, so you’ll want this person to be part of the process from the very beginning.

Statistician/quantitative expert
Your team should include someone with expertise in analyzing data. In some cases, your methods expert will fill this role.

A librarian can help you determine which databases and sources are ideal for your specific topic. Librarians can also build the right search strategy for each database. Working with a librarian early in the review process will prevent a lot of unnecessary back tracking and heartache in the long run. In some cases, your methods expert can fill this role.

Clinical/subject area experts
These people are experts on the question you’re exploring. Their content knowledge and experience can help design a question that is useful for decision makers.

Stakeholders are members of the community with a personal/financial/policymaking interest in the topic you’re exploring. Depending on your question, stakeholders could be your clinical or subject area experts, but you might also want to include advocates, policy makers, clinicians, payers, purchasers or patients. Stakeholders can play a valuable role in helping you shape your initial question so it’s relevant to the community they represent.

For more information, take a look at the Institute of Medicine’s Standards for Conducting a Systematic Review.

As you’re assembling your team, you’ll want to be aware of potential conflicts of interest. We’ll talk about that on the next page.