New! Knowledge Synthesis Support Tools

Looking to write a review paper? Library Services is excited to introduce new tools for emerging knowledge synthesis (KS) projects (e.g. systematic reviews). These tools are designed to educate research teams and students about the major types of reviews, help them choose the KS methodology that best suits their project, aid in the proper planning of projects to help ensure that they result in successful publication, and test their readiness.  

Comparison chart
The comparison chart defines and compares key elements of major KS methodologies and assists in understanding the key attributes of each review type. It is meant to be used with the decision tool. 
Decision tool
This tool assists in making a decision about what type of review is right for you based on your research question(s) and the required parameters of each type of review. It is meant to be used with the comparison chart. 
Knowledge Synthesis Readiness Checklist
A detailed checklist to help research teams determine their readiness to conduct a knowledge synthesis project to completion.
This tool describes requirements for attribution of authorship, expectations for collaboration, and publication etiquette. It might be particularly helpful for junior scientists or those who have never worked with an information specialist in the conduct of a knowledge synthesis project.

If you have any questions about these tools, please don’t hesitate to contact Zack Osborne, Manager of Health Information & Knowledge Mobilization at


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Library Link: August 2020

Hello, Library Linkers!

Happy August! Library Services has dedicated this issue of our newsletter to highlight the resources Library Services provides to support learning whether you’re working on-site or off-site. Please check out all of our resources in this pdf august-newsletter-2020 or click on the image below!




Scheduled Pick-ups for Library Materials

Starting July 13th, Library Services will offer scheduled pick-ups for St. Michael’s Hospital’s library material! This includes print books and journals in our main collection, the Leadership Development collection, Popular Health & Science collection, as well as iPads. You can schedule your pick-ups anytime between 10 AM- 3 PM.

1. Find the item(s) you want to borrow

First, search our online catalogue for the item(s) you’d like to borrow by visiting the library website here:


2. Request and schedule your pick-up

To make a request and schedule your pick-up please fill out the required information on this form:  

3. Pick up the item(s) you requested

To pick up your requested item(s), please arrive on the confirmed date and time at the Library’s entrance next to the Computer Lab/opposite the LKSKI east elevators, and please bring your St. Michael’s Hospital badge.

When returning the library item(s) you borrowed, please use the drop-box also located by the library entrance next to the Computer Lab/opposite the east elevators.

This service is currently only available at St. Michael’s Hospital. If you have any questions or would like clarification, please reach out to and we will be happy to help.

Pivoting to Virtual Teamwork using Slack

by Zack Osborne, Manager of Health Information & Knowledge Mobilization

For many non-clinical staff and teams at Unity Health, the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted us to change the way we work (most often working virtually – from home), and to adopt new approaches for communication and collaboration among our teams (whom we’re accustomed to seeing and working with in-person each day). In mid-March with little advanced notice, the Library nimbly pivoted its core activities to online and remote environments. The foundation and key to success for all our library services is good communication, and accordingly, the new remote work directives unquestionably challenged the existing “flow” and pattern for quick, effective team communication on our team.

A piece in the Toronto Star addressed the realities, hardships, and some humour about working from home, and highlighted feelings of isolation and loneliness often accompanied with virtual/remote work. Changes to our work norms can be difficult, and an early solution trialed by the Unity Health Library Services team was the introduction and experimentation of Slack. The team quickly found Slack to be a helpful tool for enabling conversation, fostering morale, and mitigating the loneliness or isolation accompanying remote work.

Slack: What is it?

  • Free, web-based platform for communication and collaboration
  • Designed for small project groups or teams
  • Used for direct or group messaging, file sharing, and collaboration

How it works:

  1. Create a Workspace:
  2. Invite members to the Workspace by email
  3. Access the Workspace on your mobile device (through the Slack app), using any web browser, and/or using the Desktop app (I use a combination of all three)
  4. Create channels for different conversations, projects, team members

screenshot of the Library team's Slack workspace channels

For our purposes, we created channels relating to broad categories of our work, pre-existing committee structures, and channels which reflect the roles and responsibilities of the team’s staff. These channels allow for team members to filter work conversations (rather than one main “chat room” for all conversation topics), and each channel can be configured to include only those who need access.

In addition to using traditional email for business-as-usual communications supporting Library services and operations, we piloted Slack for remote collaboration, conversation, and to combat those feelings of decreased productivity often experienced with remote work. It’s also a simple tool for checking-in each morning, expressing how we’re feeling, and retaining the important social aspects of work which we’re all missing.

screenshot from Moneyball (2011) with caption "You don't put a team together with a computer."

While technology alone can’t solve our problems, Slack’s intuitive interface and adaptive functionality allows for a somewhat organic platform to foster office conversation, teamwork, and connecting with one another. Slack also delivers an informative guide with tips and tricks for transitioning to remote work:

It’s important to note that due to the nature of our department’s work, which has no interaction or connection with sensitive patient information or health records (requiring additional privacy considerations), we pursued piloting Slack purely for our internal communications and teamwork. Any clinical teams who work with patient health information should not adopt Slack without consulting IT Security first. An existing approved platform for Unity Health is Cisco Jabber. The Library also doesn’t use Slack to share licensed content from any of our vendors or suppliers. It’s used by our team solely as a communication platform to replace/supplement office conversation, quick question and answer, team huddles, and to support one another from afar.

Other positive outcomes of adopting Slack include significantly reduced inbox clutter and streamlined communication (i.e. assigning the use of Slack for quick answers, confirmation notes – i.e. “thanks for sending that!”, gaining consensus on ideas or action items, sharing Zoom details, etc.). Rather than sending an email, picking up the phone, or starting a Zoom meeting, it’s often much quicker to send a Slack message to get the information one needs. Slack also saved the day during a Code Grey in mid-March, as we could continue to communicate and work together while the email server was down for several hours.

To sum things up, the Library team has been very satisfied with Slack for its piloted purposes. Having a team-based platform to connect with each other while working virtually from home has been an asset to our continued productivity, and a valued outlet for communication and collaboration.

Library Link: April 2020

Hello, Library Linkers!

We have a jam-packed newsletter for you this month! Highlighting all of the new resources and information we have curated to help support your work and interests.

Click the newsletter for an interactive PDF version.


If you have any questions please do not hesitate to reach out to

Supporting Your Information Needs During COVID-19

By David Lightfoot, Information Specialist

SARS CoV 2/COVID19 has stretched the capacity of healthcare systems around the globe, not just with numbers of patients, but the sheer novelty of the virus. As the disease spreads faster than research, communication among researchers is vital. Unity Health Toronto Health Sciences Library staff take our roles in this seriously, and while our doors are closed, we are busy as ever in our remote locations.

Our supporting role began when we were asked to compile news stories for the Unity Health Command Centre as part of their daily briefing. Members of the Command Centre team are given statistical updates, including a short a précis of Canadian and international news. The Library also opened a new Twitter account dedicated to following key policy makers—Canadian Health Ministers, politicians, the CDC—and set up automated Google searches.

Since then we have been approached by Unity Health staff and physicians to answer questions on more than 20 different topics related to COVID-19 that have informed decisions on patient care, including updating directives and procedures, and best practices.

At the same time, publishers around the globe have opened up access temporarily to ensure that the transfer of knowledge about SARS CoV2 is fast and reliable. Our job is to make sure the staff of Unity Health is aware of these resources.

COVID-19 resource guide prepared by the Health Sciences Library

COVID-19 resource guide prepared by the Health Sciences Library

We created a COVID-19 online resource guide comprised of curated information and tools to support all Unity Health staff and physicians for patient care, research, and policy development. This guide promotes the popular point-of-care tools UpToDate (now open access and free for all for April 2020) and Dynamed, as well as dozens of pre-print publications. The guide is continuously updated daily as new information evolves or is made available. It also provides users with pre-built PubMed searches and filters to save time and speed the work of others.

Please take advantage of these resources and contact us with your information needs and inquiries, and reach out with any opportunities for collaboration to support the evidence-based information needs of you, your team, and your care practices.