Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Letters Stopping of Viagra trial

Comprehensive literature search for animal studies may have saved STRIDER trial

BMJ 2018; 362 doi: (Published 25 September 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;362:k4007

Rapid Response:

Isn't it the right time for librarians to officially join clinical trial teams?

Symonds and Budge1 are raising a classic but important and neglected concern on how a proper systematic review could prevent waste in trials and add value to the research.2,3 A living systematic review is required alongside each clinical trial. This review should start with the raising of a clinical question and continue to be updated during the protocol/grant application writing, and designing, conducting, recording, and reporting the trial to safeguard every research project from reinventing the wheel or worse a flat tire.4

While the involvement of librarians and information specialists could avoid the similar waste caused by missing literature,5 research teams constantly resist involving a search expert in their team. Clinical trials require daily, weekly and monthly updates from the literature which could be achieved through designing, running, and updating the rigour search strategies in bibliographic databases.

Librarians and information specialists are equipped with the information skills to avoid preventable waste in research. Furthermore, their efforts on systematic reviewing for ongoing trials could result in added value such as a secondary uneatable and shareable bibliographic database of literature per clinical question for the research team and audiences who could use it in writing the report or updating the literature review in a faster and more accurate way.

1. Symonds ME, Budge H. Comprehensive literature search for animal studies may have saved STRIDER trial. BMJ 2018; 362: k4007. DOI 10.1136/bmj.k4007
2. Chalmers I, Glasziou P. Avoidable waste in the production and reporting of research evidence. Lancet. 2009; 374(9683): 86-9. DOI 10.1016/S0140-6736(09)60329-9
3. Glasziou P, Chalmers I. How systematic reviews can reduce waste in research. 2015. Accessed September 11, 2017.
4. Booth A, Sutton A, Papaioannou D. Systematic Approaches to a Successful Literature Review. 2nd ed. Sage Publications; 2016.
5. Kirtley S. Increasing value and reducing waste in biomedical research: librarians are listening and are part of the answer. Lancet. 2016; 387(10028): 1601.

Competing interests: No competing interests

18 October 2018
Farhad Shokraneh
Information Specialist
School of Medicine, University of Nottingham
Cochrane, B Floor, Institute of Mental Health, NG7 2TU, University of Nottingham