Workbook for systematic review consultations

I’m often approached by masters and PhD students and researchers in my institution to advise on systematic review projects in the early stages. I’ve found that the skill levels to complete a systematic or scoping review are variable, and that many researchers need a primer to get up to speed about the process of conducting a review, what skills are required, and in particular, how to go about the planning process.

I support many projects in depth from start to finish, but for many projects at my institution, I only have the time to provide advice and consultations. Unfortunately, I quickly learned that throwing a lot of information at people in a short period of time was not useful, and I would sometimes see the same researchers at a later consultation who hadn’t gotten very far with their projects and needed a lot of the same information again.

notebookPhoto by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

There are many, many resources online for conducting review projects, including some enviable LibGuides (I personally like the Queens University knowledge synthesis guide and University of Toronto learning to search guide). However, I wanted a resource that I could use when physically sitting with someone in a meeting room, where we could plan out their review project together. And I was getting pretty tired of drawing the same venn diagrams of how “AND” and “OR” boolean operators work on whatever scratch paper I had handy.

I recently developed a guide that fits these purposes, and after a few iterations and some testing and feedback, I’ve put it online for others to use and edit as they wish with a CC-NC-SA 4.0 License. The goal of this guide is to provide a resource that:

  • Can be printed and used as a workbook to guide a systematic reviews consultation
  • Also contains enough information to be a stand-alone self-learning resource for after the consultation (e.g. the information on boolean operators)
  • Is not too long to be intimidating or overwhelming for someone just getting started

Without a doubt, there will be further refinements and additions to the guide over time, but for now, please feel free to download, use, and edit for your own purposes. Any feedback or comments are also gratefully accepted. 🙂

You can find the guide here at Open Science Framework.

screenshot of OSF

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Building a Twitter bot!

I have long admired – and, I’ll admit – been a bit fearful of cool technology projects that make use of APIs. To be honest, I’m still not *entirely* sure how an API works. It feels a bit like magic. You need keys and secret keys and bits of code and all those things need to be in the right place at the right time and I might even have to use scary things like the command line!

So you can imagine, I’ve been looking at all the cool Twitter bots launched over the past few years with much wistfulness… some examples of my favourites:

When I recently saw Andrew Booth’s tweet about his “Random Review Label Generator”, I knew it was time for me to get in on the action.

As it turns out, a lovely fellow has made the process of creating Twitter bots super easy by coding all the hard stuff and launching a user-friendly template with step-by-step instructions, freely available for anyone to use. Special thanks to Zach Whalen for creating and putting this online!

So: without further ado, I present to you a Twitter bot that randomly generates a new healthcare review project every hour. You’re welcome!

The beauty of this bot is that some of the project names are so ridiculous… any yet you wouldn’t be surprised to see many of them actually published. I am endlessly entertained by the combinations that it comes up with, and I hope you are too!