Evidence-based biomedical research in Sub-Saharan Africa: how library and information science professionals contribute to systematic reviews and meta-analyses


  • Toluwase Victor Asubiaro Doctoral Candidate (formerly), Library and Information Science Program, Faculty of Information and Media Studies, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0718-7739
  • Isioma Elueze Fanshawe College, London, Ontario, Canada




Sub-Saharan Africa, systematic reviews, meta-analysis, information professionals, evidence-based biomedical research, content analysis, librarians


Objective: This study investigated the contributions of library and information science (LIS) professionals to systematic reviews and meta-analyses with authors from Sub-Saharan Africa. It also investigated how the first author’s address and type of collaboration affected the involvement of LIS professionals in systematic reviews and meta-analyses.

Methods: Bibliographic data of systematic reviews with author(s) from the forty-six Sub-Saharan African countries was retrieved from MEDLINE. Content and bibliometric analyses were performed on the systematic reviews' full-texts and bibliographic data, respectively, to identify the contributions of LIS professionals and collaboration patterns.

Results: Beyond traditional roles as search strategy developers and searchers, the LIS professionals participated in article retrieval, database selection, reference management, draft review, review conceptualization, manuscript writing, technical support, article screening and selection, data extraction, abstract review, and training/teaching. Of the 2,539 publications, LIS professionals were mentioned in 472 publications. LIS professionals from only seven of the forty-six Sub-Saharan African countries were noted to have contributed. LIS professionals from South Africa were mentioned most frequently—five times more than those from other Sub-Saharan African countries. LIS professionals from Sub-Saharan Africa mostly contributed to publications with first authors from Sub-Saharan Africa (90.20%) and intra-Sub-Saharan African collaboration (61.66%). Most LIS professionals (97.91%) that contributed to international collaboration publications were from outside Sub-Saharan Africa.

Conclusion: The contribution of LIS professionals in Sub-Saharan Africa to evidence-based biomedical research can improve through training, mentoring, and collaboration between LIS associations in Sub-Saharan Africa and those in countries with resources and a history of research collaboration with the region.


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Original Investigation