Himmelfarb Library Faculty Publications

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of the Medical Library Association








Collaboration, Emergency Response, Rapid Review, Systematic Review, Methods, Information Retrieval


Objectives: Information professionals have supported medical providers, administrators and decision-makers, and guideline creators in the COVID-19 response. Searching COVID-19 literature presented new challenges, including the volume and heterogeneity of literature and the proliferation of new information sources, and exposed existing issues in metadata and publishing. An expert panel developed best practices, including recommendations, elaborations, and examples, for searching during public health emergencies.

Methods: Project directors and advisors developed core elements from experience and literature. Experts, identified by affiliation with evidence synthesis groups, COVID-19 search experience, and nomination, responded to an online survey to reach consensus on core elements. Expert participants provided written responses to guiding questions. A synthesis of responses provided the foundation for focus group discussions. A writing group then drafted the best practices into a statement. Experts reviewed the statement prior to dissemination.

Results: Twelve information professionals contributed to best practice recommendations on six elements: core resources, search strategies, publication types, transparency and reproducibility, collaboration, and conducting research. Underlying principles across recommendations include timeliness, openness, balance, preparedness, and responsiveness.

Conclusions: The authors and experts anticipate the recommendations for searching for evidence during public health emergencies will help information specialists, librarians, evidence synthesis groups, researchers, and decision-makers respond to future public health emergencies, including but not limited to disease outbreaks. The recommendations complement existing guidance by addressing concerns specific to emergency response. The statement is intended as a living document. Future revisions should solicit input from a broader community and reflect conclusions of meta-research on COVID-19 and health emergencies.


Copyright (c) 2023 Stacy Brody, Sara Loree, Margaret Sampson, Shaila Mensinkai, Jennifer Coffman, Mark Heinrich Mueller, Nicole Askin, Cheryl Hamill, Emma Wilson, Mary Beth McAteer, Heather Staines, Best Practices for Searching During Public Health Emergencies Working Group

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Peer Reviewed


Open Access


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