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Knowledge Synthesis Services: For UHN Staff or Students

Services for UHN Staff, Students, or Affiliates engaging in systematic reviews, scoping reviews, or other knowledge synthesis projects.
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What is Knowledge Synthesis?

Knowledge Syntheses are research methods which gather, appraise, synthesize and analyze existing research on a topic. Systematic reviews and scoping reviews are two types of knowledge syntheses, but there are many other types of literature reviews as well. The type of knowledge synthesis method that is appropriate for your question depends on what you are aiming to find out as well as practical concerns around time and other resources you have available to you. 

Is this the right review for you?

Depending upon the purpose of your review, and the time and resources you have available, a systematic review or scoping review may not be the best option. Consider the types of literature reviews available to determine the most appropriate one for your project. 

For those outside the UHN Community

HealthSearch is a fee-based health information research service providing custom tailored medical and health-related information to health professionals and organizations outside the UHN community. HealthSearch is a UHN service and operates within UHN Library and Information Services.

Librarian's Role in Knowledge Synthesis Projects

A librarian or Information Specialist can be a valuable part of your Systematic Review or Knowledge Synthesis Team. Information Specialists at UHN have expertise in searching for evidence and in developing search strategies for systematic reviews, scoping reviews, and other knowledge synthesis projects. We can help with numerous steps throughout the planning, conducting, and reporting phases of your review, including:

  • actively helping to develop and refine your topic,
  • helping to determine feasibility of your review question and review type,
  • developing and executing systematic literature searches in all relevant databases,
  • documenting search strategies,
  • drafting the search methods section and corresponding appendix for your manuscript,
  • providing information for your PRISMA flow diagram,
  • suggesting appropriate journals for possible manuscript submission, and
  • critically reviewing sections of the manuscript and final draft.

An Information Specialist may be entitled to co-authorship in accordance with UHN’s Research Authorship Policy 40.60.001 and the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors’ Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals.

See tabs below for descriptions of the service models available to help support your knowledge synthesis project.

Available Service Models for UHN Staff or Students

Your UHN Information Specialist will provide a 1-hour consult meeting during which you and/or your team can choose to receive advice, instruction or assistance on one or more of the following topics (depending upon time):

  • Choosing the appropriate type of knowledge synthesis for your project
  • Developing your research/search question and using PICO
  • Finding resources to guide the development of your review protocol
  • Choosing an appropriate journal to submit your manuscript to
  • Choosing the right databases to search
  • Navigating open access considerations
  • Choosing and using a citation manager such as Endnote
  • How to conduct searches for knowledge syntheses
  • How to develop, test and translate search strategies for different databases
  • How to document and report your search process
  • How to update or adapt another person's search strategy
  • Tips for grey literature searching or hand searching
  • Answering basic questions about the screening process and directing you to more in depth information about screening
  • Finding and using Risk of Bias tools
  • Available options for dissemination of your published article

We also have group workshops available for some of these topics.


  • You must be affiliated with UHN and have a primary office at one of UHN's sites

Service includes:

  • Assistance choosing appropriate knowledge synthesis method
  • Assistance developing your search question
  • Assistance finding appropriate guidelines and reporting standards for your review type
  • Choosing appropriate databases
  • Consultation and instruction for search methods appropriate to your project
  • Assistance improving your search strategies
  • Assistance choosing and using a citation manager such as Endnote
  • Provision of blank PRISMA flow chart (if appropriate)
  • Options for dissemination of published paper
  • Advice for grey literature or hand searching, including documentation methods for your manuscript

With the full knowledge synthesis service model your Information Specialist will join your project team and be entitled to co-authorship in accordance with UHN’s Research Authorship Policy 40.60.001 and the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors’ Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals.

Please fill out parts 1 and 2 of the Knowledge Synthesis Project Proposal form and submit it, along with your review protocol, to your Information Specialist before your meeting.

At your meeting with your IS, you will discuss parts 2 and 3 and finalize the Terms of Service.

The Principle Investigator (PI) must be affiliated with UHN for our team to support your review. If this is not the case, please contact the PI’s hospital or university for support, or contact HealthSearch.

Please note: Most knowledge synthesis projects are an 8-12 month commitment, if not more, and the initial searches can take 6-8 weeks. Suggested timelines for a Cochrane Review.


  • Your Information Specialist is entitled to co-authorship
  • Your team must include an appropriate number of members for conducting the type of knowledge synthesis chosen
  • Your team must complete the KS project proposal form
  • Your team must provide a written protocol and consider publishing or registering it in advance
  • The principle investigator (PI) must be affiliated with, and have a primary office at, UHN
  • The project lead and PI must attend the initial meeting with the Information Specialist
  • The Information Specialist must have the opportunity to review the manuscript(s)/abstract(s) prior to submission

Service includes:

  • Assistance choosing appropriate KS method
  • Assistance developing review question
  • Assistance finding appropriate guidelines and standards for KS method
  • Choosing appropriate databases
  • Developing search strategies
  • Peer review of search strategy (as appropriate)
  • Assistance choosing and using a citation manager
  • Downloading results into format appropriate for citation manager
  • Documentation of searches, including first steps in PRISMA flow chart (if appropriate)
  • Citation searching for selected key papers
  • Rerunning / updating the ISs own searches (for updating or rerunning searches developed by someone else, see consultation service)
  • Options for Risk of Bias tools and usage
  • Written search methods for manuscript with associated appendices
  • Options for dissemination of published paper
  • Advice for grey literature or hand searching including documentation

Fee-based Services

Most knowledge synthesis services are provided without charge to members of the UHN community. Some additional services can be provided for a fee:

Grey (unpublished) literature searching


Duplicates Removal


Hand searching of selected journals


Searching of individual conferences


Participating in screening process


Retrieving full text (hard or e-copies)

$5 per article plus any charges levied by the lending institution