The Literature Search Service Level Agreement outlines the core services that Reference Services provide from resources available. The purpose of this service level agreement is to provide ACT Health staff with consistent highest quality of information and resources. This agreement is designed to both orient new staff members and to be an information resource for more experienced staff.
The agreement is reviewed annually, or upon request, for currency, accuracy and completeness. Significant individual changes may be made throughout the year as the need for them arises.

In an effort to provide the highest levels of service and quality to ACT Health staff, we have divided our participation and services into three tiers of Reference Services. The services listed under tier two and three outline the Reference Services that support literature reviews and systematic reviews. Literature or reviews of a systematic nature is a value-added service available for current ACT Health staff. 

Due to the nuanced nature of the work, as projects evolve individual librarians retain the right to change tiers to accurately reflect the nature of the work being conducted, as well as refuse co-authorship. On publication of the article you will provide acknowledged or co-author librarian a copy of the published manuscript for his/her portfolio.


  • Due to the in-depth and time-intensive nature of this work, each librarian can work on a limited number of in-depth reviews at a time so the service may not be immediately available if we have already reached our maximum capacity. In such cases, your request will be queued and we will communicate with you about estimated start date.
  • References librarians do not interpret information, such as medical, health, legal, financial, statistical informant or proof read content.
  • Reference librarians do not check bibliographies but offer assistance to users in the use of bibliographic tools.

Prior to requesting an initial meeting please fill out our Literature search request form

Service level Type of Reference Service Deliverables Reference staff hours
Tier One

Brief reference service

1. Assist in finding the answer to quick reference service within 24 hours. 1-5 hours

2. Library orientation session, registering as a member and an overview of services and resources.
3. Guide you to the most appropriate resources for your research or project.
4. Provide a range of workshops and introductory sessions to help you and/or systematic review team to find your way around the ACT Health collection and to make the best use of them.
5. Suggest other resources, archives and institutions that you might find useful in your research, or guide you to relevant websites and free on-line resources.
Add one of the Reference Librarians to your systematic review (link to the systematic review page) team (acknowledgement as contributors) and we will design and manage complex, thorough searches in multiple databases and provide results in an EndNote Library format (link to EndNote online tutorials).

Search to support the production of a systematic review in either Tier two or three is complex and time consuming – it takes days and weeks depending on the topic. 
Tier Two


1. Initial meeting. Review literature request form determining if the project is systematic review versus other type of review (eg. Literature review, systematic review, quality improvement projects or for accreditation purposes etc. ) 5 - 15 hours

2. Identification and suggestion of other databases to user for extending search.
3. Advise or conduct automated database search alerts.
4. Provide guidance on searching the grey literature and/or hand searching.
5. Peer review search strategies. Advise and guide on including, but not limited to:
  • Appropriate use of subject headings
  • Appropriate use of explosion
  • Appropriate use of subheadings and floating subheadings
  • Use of natural language (text words) in addition to controlled vocabulary terms
  • Use of appropriate synonyms, acronyms, etc.
  • Truncation and spelling variations
  • Appropriate use of limits such as language, years etc.
  • Field searching, publication type, author etc.
  • Boolean operators used appropriately
  • Line errors: when searches are combined using line numbers, be sure the numbers refer to the searches intended
  • Check indexing of relevant articles
  • Review search searches adapted for multiple databases
6.  Provide an overview on searching manuals and checklists, Cochrane Handbook: Searching for Studies, Prospero (International prospective register of systematic reviews NHS).
Tier Three Co-authorship Tier One & Two plus one or more of: 15 + hours

Note: Librarian’s will not apply inclusion and exclusion criteria across results.

  1.  More in-depth collaboration on additional part of the project/review. Librarians will provide you with full search strategies and results as required by the 2009 PRISMA Statement for Reporting Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses of Studies That Evaluate Health Care interventions: Explanation and Elaboration.
2. Determine if a systematic review has already been done on your topic.
3. Translate the research question into an appropriate search strategy.
4. Translate the search concepts into controlled vocabulary and keywords so that retrieval is maximised at the same time as being precise.
5. Conduct comprehensive literature searches in compliance with Cochrane Handbook Chapter 6: Searching for studies.
6. Create and monitor search alerts across multiple databases.
7. Conduct grey literature searches.
8. Maintain records of search results and follow up with alerts and updates as needed.
9. Development of PRISMA Flowchart (upon request).
10. Write the literature search methodology section for the submitted manuscript.

1. Government of Western Australia South Metropolitan Health Service East Metropolitan Health Service Library and Information Service,

3. Lane Medical library,
3. Memorial Sloan Kettering Library LibGuides, Systematic Review (SR) Service,
4. National and State Libraries Australasia Information and research services principles for the National and State libraries of Australasia. Endorsed February 2011,
Information is provided as a service by the ACT Health Library & Multimedia Services. The information is gathered from subscribed medical sources and is not intended to provide comprehensive coverage of the subject. The information may not be applicable in any given clinical situation, nor is the selection of material intended to suggest a diagnosis or treatment modality. Results of any literature search are subject to the limitations of the database searched, consequently, some citations which are retrieved may not be directly relevant to the desired topic. The information is only valid as of the date and time conducted. From time to time inaccuracies may exist in a citation. The information is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice or care from a physician or other health care professional.

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