Odds & Ends of possible interest

Useful FireFox extensions :

  • Distill

This allows you to monitor a web page  for any changes. You can highlight just part of the page (handy as some pages  change a lot  with tweets or whatever so you want to avoid that) and it will track changes only in that section – useful if looking for a report to appear, update to a publication. The only tricky thing with it is that  when you highlight a section the Save changes icon you want is bottom right (took a while to find that)

  • Lightshot and Awesome Screenshot  Plus

Both of these make capturing and annotating screenshots  very easy which is useful for training  materials, highlighting problems  via emails etc

  • Copy as plain text

Just a little  thing but find it useful. Adds a  right click option to a highlighted  items in the browser  such that  you can copy as  plain text and don’t have formatting carried over  into whatever you are  copying into

  • Vimperator

Essentially it converts links into numbers and you can “click on the link” by typing the relevant number so in a sense  creates  keyboard shortcuts  for websites. Could be useful with any web interface used frequently.

  • Lastpass

Oldie but a very goodie – only ever have to remember one password.

 

Other bits and pieces:

PubMed for Nurses  tutorial

UpToDate now more useful  for those that subscribe

There is now a specific ClinicalKey app (rather than just a mobile optimised site) but apparently only available in the US for the moment

Booko price alert. Booko is useful for finding the best prices for books (including delivery). It now has a feature where for a given item you can set a price target and be alerted when price drops below your nominated figure. This feature is below the book cover image.

Move between browser tabs. It is quite easy to get caught out using alt-tab when all you actually want to do is move between tabs of the browser. Ctrl-tab works for most browsers so you just have to think ctrl instead of alt

On the Wards. This is a website for junior docs containing podcasts, blogs and videos. The podcasts are interviews with senior clinicians that discuss common questions and case based scenarios that junior doctors will face on the wards etc

A few new useful(?) MeSH headings for 2015 – Legendary creatures, Long term adverse effects, Smartphone, Spirit possession, Giraffes, Hoarding disorder

Continuing with MeSH. MeSH On Demand identifies candidate subject headings from text pasted into the search box

Two newish PubMed alerting services – Medumail and MedSubscriber

Papers, the reference manager, for iPhone and iPad is now free

British Medical Library Association book prize winners 2015 for possible book purchases

WriteCite Builds citation as student enters details so they can learn the structure

The Cloud Catalog: One Catalog to Serve Them All

And with that it is time now for a coffee

Ithaka S+R Local Faculty Survey and Health Sciences Libraries:

In 2014, the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Libraries administered the Ithaka S+R Local Faculty Survey to our faculty to measure their changing needs and perceptions of library resources. The survey, consisting of seven modules including the health sciences module, was distributed across our campus. The health sciences module targets faculty with patient or clinical care responsibilities. At this time, few health sciences libraries have used this instrument. Survey questions focused on attitudes and skills related to evidence-based scholarly resources as well as access and use of other library services and resources.

Of course we all know students’ research skills especially in finding evidence based scholarly research are often lacking. This came out clearly from the results of the Ithaka survey. Again we were not surprised to see that faculty also see these research skills as a very important aspect of the students’ learning. However, it is still amazing that a large number of faculty did not see teaching the skill of finding evidence based scholarly materials and research skills as primarily the librarians’ function. A timely reminder for us to continue informing our faculty that we indeed have are more than capable to teach students research skills especially when it comes to evidence based practice. What a great opportunity for us to collaborate with our faculty and remind them about everything else we bring to the table!

Hopefully more health sciences libraries will use this survey instrument to measure their faculty perceptions because I think it would be interesting to compare the VCU’s Tompkins-McCaw Library’s findings with other libraries that have surveyed their health sciences faculty.

Post Publication Review: Librarians’ Role

On Monday I spoke to a group of physicians, hospital administrators and other medical professionals on the impact of the publishing industry on hospitals and medicine.  While I spoke about the elephant in the room, sky high subscription rates for institutions, I also spoke about the role of post publication review in medical literature.

The example I gave was Amanda Capes-Davis who comments within PubMed Commons on mistaken identities of cell lines within the medical literature and her efforts to inform readers of potential cell line problems.

I wish I had seen Melissa Rethlefsen’s PubMed Commons post when I was creating my presentation.  It is a great example of how medical librarians can examine the published literature for inconsistencies regarding the methodologies of their search of the literature when conducting research.

Melissa reviewed the article “Comparative efficacy and safety of blood pressure-lowering agents in adults with diabetes and kidney disease: a network meta-analysis.” Lancet. 2015 May 23;385(9982):2047-56. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(14)62459-4.  She and her colleagues at the University of Utah Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library reviewed and tried to duplicate the authors’ Embase search strategy which the authors reported in the Appendix (pages 13-14). According to the PRISMA flow chart the authors retrieved 1,371 results (Appendix page 37).

According to Melissa,

This study highlights the need for more accurate and comprehensive reporting needed for search strategies in systematic reviews and other literature search-based research syntheses, and the need for better peer review of search strategies by information specialists/medical librarians. Though the searches in the Appendix are on face value replicable and high quality, on closer inspection, they do not in fact meet the reporting standards as outlined by PRISMA Statement items #7 and #8: “Describe all information sources in the search (e.g., databases with dates of coverage, contact with study authors to identify additional studies) and date last searched” and “Present the full electronic search strategy for at least one major database, including any limits used, such that it could be repeated.”

For me, this comment within PubMed Commons highlights the need for librarians to analyze search strategies in the literature and to speak up and set the record straight when things are not correct or there are issues of reproducibility.  Just like Amanda Capes-Davis who sheds light on cell line problems or the statisticians who questioned the math in an NEJM article (later retracted), we are subject experts and it is important that we help contribute to post publication peer review.

Medical librarians all around the world can point to examples of when a poor literature search could have saved lives or prevented injuries, death or illness.  I am not suggesting the literature review in the article by Palmer et al. could cause patient harm.  But PubMed Commons provides librarians with an avenue by which to question literature reviews presented in research.  Hopefully by highlighting questionable search strategies or corroborating effective search strategies it will lead to better use of librarians and better research all around.

Doing Something Neat with Technology? Submit Your Project to JMLA Virtual Projects

The Journal of the Medical Library Association (JMLA) Virtual Projects Committee is seeking innovative and notable technology projects for the October 2016 JMLA Virtual Projects column. The annual column focuses on library virtual spaces that extend the library “presence” outward to support users in their digital spaces, wherever and whenever needed.

To be considered for this column, please submit a 200-word abstract of your virtual project or a link to your project web page that describes the project and why it is innovative or notable. Technology projects must have been implemented within the past two years. Send your submissions to Susan Lessick  slessick[atsign]uci[dot]edu AHIP, FMLA, by March 17.

Submissions of virtual projects may demonstrate the implementation of a new technology or a new application of an older technology. Focus areas or technologies of special interest include, but are not limited to:

  • electronic medical record (EMR)/electronic health record (EHR) integration and “meaningful use” programs
  • data management
  • data visualization
  • assessment metrics
  • gamification
  • flipped classroom
  • adaptive learning technologies
  • virtual reality (VR)
  • beacons
  • social media technologies

    Please consider sharing your knowledge and experiences with implementing virtual projects in your library to inspire and encourage your peers, partners, and communities.

    JMLA Virtual Projects Advisory Committee: Patricia Anderson; Janis F. Brown, AHIP; Michelle Kraft, AHIP; Susan Lessick, AHIP, FMLA (column editor); and Elizabeth Whipple, AHIP.

“85% of biomedical research is wasted” and librarians

First to the rather disturbing 85% figure. This originates from a 2009 Lancet article that suggests much research is wasted due to asking the wrong questions, being badly designed, being not published, being poorly reported and more. The paper has been cited some 400 times in Google Scholar which indicates that it is an area of interest and concern.

So where where do librarians fit in? A recent paper (“Impactful librarians : identifying opportunities to increase your impact”) suggests that they can play a very important role in improving research quality in their organisations. At the same time, this will help raise the profile and value of clinical librarians, which is increasingly important in the current economic climate.

Shona Kirtley, from the University of Oxford in the UK, outlines a number of steps that librarians can pro actively take to achieve some of these desirable outcomes. 16 possible actions are handily summarised in the article, and no doubt there are other approaches which can be adopted.

To highlight just one area as an example, one aspect of research inefficiency is in the reporting of research methods and results. Reporting guidelines, which often take the form of check-lists or flow diagrams, have been developed to improve reporting of various study types, such as randomised controlled trials (CONSORT), systematic reviews (PRISMA), observational studies (STROBE), case reports (CASE) and so on. As clinical librarians are often in contact with researchers, they are ideally placed to promote awareness of guidelines such as these. For instance, this could be when a clinician requests a search for research, during training classes, on the library website etc.

It is valuable to have a look at the EQUATOR Network site which provides online access to numerous reporting guidelines; searchable by study type and/or clinical speciality. Just making researchers aware of this site alone would significantly contribute to research quality.

My own country Australia has just become the fourth member of the network worldwide, following the United Kingdom, Canada and France. There is a Librarian section of the EQUATOR Network if you would like to be involved in establishing it in your own country or contributing generally. Another site focussed on preventing research waste is The Reward Alliance.

In short, the Kirtley paper is well worth printing off and reading, giving as it does much food for thought and outlining potential opportunities for librarians to have a positive and valued impact on biomedical research.

Comments, suggestions, tips, anecdotes etc welcome below,

– Rob

Interdisciplinary Collaboration

At the beginning of last year I was asked to design and teach a new course with one of the nursing instructors that would teach students how to write professionally and value inter-professional communication. As an academic librarian for nursing and health sciences, I do a lot of teaching as part of my day to day role, but I had never taught an eight week course. And, not since before library school had I taught anything that wasn’t directly related to libraries or where I was not in the role of librarian.

My co-instructor and I spent months matching readings, assignments, and assessments to learning objectives and the course that emerged was a cross-listed nursing and health sciences elective titled Basics of APA Writing for Healthcare. In the course, students learn to evaluate research, ethically use sources in their writing, and practice formal, persuasive writing, all while exploring a current healthcare communication issue and evidence-based practice. Many of these are topics I cover with students ordinarily as their librarian, but instead of teaching them in bits and pieces throughout various classes, I get to teach them all in sequence in a condensed time frame and reinforce the material as I go.

Teaching with a nurse educator is the perfect balance; we are learning from each other’s perspectives on active learning, information literacy, and library research. Talking to each other for hours each week teaches each of us about the other’s expertise and helps us each value the other’s role in healthcare education. And students benefit from having two instructors with varied proficiencies. We can teach both theory and practice, catch different mistakes, counter each other’s biases, and improve our communication. Through our teaching partnership we give students an ongoing example of how interdisciplinary collaboration can improve practice, a lesson they will hopefully take with them into their healthcare professions.

I am still learning as I go, but this has been an invaluable experience so far. My goal for this year is to seek out other interdisciplinary collaboration opportunities for myself and the library.

InTOCicated by eTOCs

As you might gather from the post title, I love journal alerts (aka eTOCs) and here’s why:

  • They increase use of our expensive ejournals
  • They help keep clinicians up to date in their specialty
  • They repeatedly remind clinicians that the medical library exists; no small thing in these Googlesque days
  • They can be used to cross promote other library resources, services and news

We are a relatively small hospital library (two staff) which services around 5000 clients. Over the years, our ejournal alert service has grown to around 700 journal alerts, and is probably our most popular service.

The way it works is that all journal eTOCs come through one email and are forwarded to alert groups automatically via rules.

Our organisation used to have Groupwise for its email system and rules worked well with it. However on switching to Outlook, we quickly found that we could only create half a dozen or so rules before memory limitations were reached. After some searching, we found an Outlook add-in called Auto-Mate from Pergenex which came to the rescue. It’s an easy to use but powerful add-in, and it’s strangely gratifying to watch it automatically forward dozens of eTOCs each morning.

While signing up for eTOCs is a one off task, and forwarding of emails is automatic once rules have been set up, creating and modifying ejournal email groups is the most labor intensive part of the service. If I was to start the service again, I’d probably do it at the subject level (eg cardiology) rather than the title level (eg BMJ) as this would reduce the workload involved in adding and removing users from groups.

With a previous post – exporting Google Scholar citations to reference managers – I Kraftily used it as a Trojan horse to seek an answer to issue. Thanks to responders Farhad, Christine and especially Karen who provided the solution.

In a similar vein, I’m hoping a clever commenter out there can shed light on the following question:

Is there a way to have an online web form such that a user can make multiple selections (for the various eTOCs they are interested in) and which on submission updates multiple email groups (corresponding to the eTOCs they have selected/deselected). The email system doesn’t necessarily need to be Outlook. I thought this would be relatively straightforward process but as yet haven’t been able to find any offerings like this, despite playing around with the likes of MailChimp.

The JournalTOCs service has something like this available but our resolver wouldn’t work with their system alas alack alay

In any case, I remain a big fan of eTOCs and would be interested to hear if any other libraries have any comments, are using them in interesting ways or have any technology (not RSS ) that streamlines the process and so on

Thanks Rob

Poop is OK!

Written at last week’s Internet Librarian 2015 Conference

A conference’s opening keynote address is kind of like the first day of school. You sit excitedly wondering what the experience is going to bring, anxiously chatting with your neighbor about what sessions you plan to attend. Looking around you size up the crowd: the diehard tweeters in the front, the laid-back cool kids leisurely skimming their conference programs, and the super hip girl in the back row wearing red tights who you hope will be your new best friend. As we settled into our seats in the hotel ballroom, we expected a lot. No pressure, but the opening session lays the foundation for the rest of the conference.

The opening keynote address at this year’s Internet Librarian 2015 Conference did not disappoint. The panel of female entrepreneurs discussed the topic “Exploring Roles & Directions: Creating, Failing, Learning.” Ilana Ben-Ari of Twenty One Toys, Liza Conrad of Hopscotch, and Erin Mulcahy of littleBits discussed their experiences in start-ups and how what they’ve learned can transfer to the library world.

One highlight from the panel is when Lisa Conrad from Hopscotch, an app that teaches kids coding through building games, told the story of a teacher who said there was inappropriate material on the app. She complained that her students were using the poop emoji too much, and she was deleting the app. Worried, the folks at Hopscotch banded together to find a solution to the problem. After some thought, they soon realized there wasn’t a problem. The kids were using the app and learning how to code – that’s the whole goal! They concluded that poop is OK. If the users like poop, then they should have poop!

What can librarians take away from this anecdote? The Hopscotch staff looked at the situation through the lens of the user. They asked the questions, “Who is this helping? Who is this serving? What do they want?” They based their choices on the people who matter most – their users. As librarians, it’s easy to get bogged down by the day-to-day and forget who we serve. Like at Hopscotch, we need to reevaluate the standards people hold us to and remember why we’re here- for our users.

Yes? Or No? Or HOW? Catching a Predator at Birth (Maybe)

Catching a Predator at Birth

I almost called this post: “Create attention for your article; write a layman’s summary,” which was the subject line from the e-mail we are discussing locally in trying to decide if it is a predatory publisher or not. (Short version of what we did for those who don’t have time to read the whole story: Identity, Authority, Credibility, Language, Editing, Timing, Licensing, Accessibility, Openness, Sources, Resources. Basically, defining a chain of trust.) I’ve blogged here before about the idea of layman’s summaries, a.k.a. plain language abstracts. They have a great tagline. It’s a great idea. My first reaction was, “How can we help?” Obviously, I think the idea is awesome, and I’ve thought so for a very long time, many years. I am far from the only person to think so. Just take a quick look at these few selected quotes.

DC Girasek: Would society pay more attention to injuries if the injury control community paid more attention to risk communication science?
“We also need to call attention to the injuries that continue to take lives, despite the fact that solid solutions for them have been published in our scientific journals. We need research on translating study findings into public action. Epidemiology and engineering remain central to the field of injury control. We must look to the social and behavioral sciences, however, if we hope to overcome the political and cognitive barriers that impede our advancement.”

Alan Betts: A Proposal for Communicating Science
“Given that the future of the Earth depends on the public have a clearer understanding of Earth science, it seems to me there is something unethical in our insular behavior as scientists.”

Jason Samenow: Should technical science journals have plain language translation?
“Some scientists might resist the onus of having to write a lay-person friendly version of their articles. However, I agree with Betts, it’s well past time they do so”

Chris Buddle: Science outreach: plain-language summaries for all research papers
“1) Scientists do really interesting things.
2) Scientists have a responsibility to disseminate their results.
3) Scientists do not publish in an accessible format.
This is a really, really big problem.”

Chris Buddle: A guide for writing plain language summaries of research papers
“A plain language summary is different because it focuses more broadly, is without jargon, and aims to provide a clear picture about ‘why’ the research was done in additional to ‘how’ the work was done, and the main findings.”

Lauren M. Kuehne and Julian D. Olden: Opinion: Lay summaries needed to enhance science communication. PNAS 112(12):3585. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1500882112
“But rather than an unrewarding burden, scientists (and journal publishers) should consider widespread adoption of lay summaries—accompanying online publications and made publicly available with traditional abstracts—as a way to increase the visibility, impact, and transparency of scientific research. This is a particularly important undertaking given the changing science media landscape.”

This is seen as SUCH an important idea that multiple grants were provided to create a tool to assist scientists in doing this well!

Center on Knowledge Translation for Disability and Rehabilitation Research (KTDRR): Plain Language Summary Tool ((science OR research) (attention OR “plain language” OR “clear language” OR layman OR journalist) (summary OR abstract)

Imagine my excitement when a colleague (many thanks to Kate MacDougall-Saylor) alerted me to a new online publication specifically for this purpose! How PERFECT for Health Literacy Month! A faculty member had asked her if it was a legitimate enterprise. So we looked at the email she’d received, and at the web site.

Dear Dr. XXX,

We are interested to publish the layman’s summary of your research article: ‘ABC ABC ABC.’ on our website.

The new project ‘Atlas of Science‘ started from 1st October 2015. It is made by scientists for scientists and the aim of the project will be publishing layman’s abstracts of research articles to highlight research to a broader audience.
Scientific articles are often difficult to fathom for journalists, due to the scientific jargon.
Although journalists like to assess the news value quickly, that is by no means simple with most research articles. Writing a short, understandable layman’s summary is a good means to reach this goal.

This makes sense, has a good message, and is accurate about the potential impact so far, but the English doesn’t read as having been written or edited by a native speaker of English, and the formatting is inconsistent. It doesn’t look as if a professional editor did a final review before promoting to the world. Warning Sign #1.

The name of the web site (Atlas of Science) is identical to the highly regarded book from MIT Press and authored by Katy Börner of the Indiana University Cyberinfrastructure for Network Science Center. At first, I thought perhaps they were connected, but quickly realized this was a separate group, simply using the same name. Warning Sign #2.

Most of the rest of the message came directly from the “For Authors” page on the web site (Why, What, Use), except for the instructions.

Submit
∙ Send your summary to [email protected], not later than ##/#/2015.

What do we do with your layman’s summary?
∙ We check the text, and in consultation with you we dot the i’s and cross the t’s.
∙ Your text will be available on the Atlas of Science website, www.atlasofscience.org .
We will actively promote this site to the press.

Please, let us know if you are interested and do not hesitate to contact us if you have any question (simply reply to this email).

This was less worrisome, except … the phrase “not later than” (combined with a date of just over a week to respond) seems to be pressuring the faculty member to respond quickly, without thinking it through carefully, and without time to actually create a well-done plain language summary. Warning Sign #3.

Speaking of a well-done plain language summary, do they explain how to do what they say they want? We checked on the web site. Not really. They tell you what they want, but not how to do it, and they don’t point people to any resources to help them understand what a plain language summary is, what this means, or how to do it. They define no standards, set no guidelines, make only the barest and simplest recommendations (such as word count — 600 words with 2 figures), and do not even mention appropriate reading level. Warning Sign #4.

Does the posted content on the site actually appear to match the stated goals of the site? Not remotely. The pieces posted don’t even match the minimal guidelines they stated in their own criteria. I tested a few of the newest posts. The titles alone (“Regulation of mediator’s expression and chemotaxis in mast cells”, “Minute exocrine glands in the compound eyes of water strider”, “Gene therapy not just counseling for your denim obsession”, tell you these are not plain language, but just to be fair and unbiased, I ran them through a Simple Measure of Gobbledygook (SMOG) Tool, which is only one of several tools and resources available for assessing readability.

Regulation of mediator’s expression and chemotaxis in mast cells
The SMOG index: 20.1
Total words: 766
Total number of polysyllabic words: 180
Total number of sentences: 41

Over 150 words more than the defined limit for the abstract (Warning Sign #5), and written for an audience with a reading level matching those with multiple graduate degrees. The SMOG Index, you see, displays the reading level by number of years of education. 12 is a high school diploma, 16 is a college degree, 18 is a masters, and 20 is well into PhD territory. The average reading level for adults in the United States is roughly 8th grade, meaning that a really well done plain language summary would be written to a SMOG level of 8, at most 12. 20 is a long ways from 12.

Minute exocrine glands in the compound eyes of water strider
The SMOG index: 16.2
Total words: 461
Total number of polysyllabic words: 70
Total number of sentences: 35

Gene therapy not just counseling for your denim obsession
The SMOG index: 18.7
Total words: 573
Total number of polysyllabic words: 79
Total number of sentences: 23

Save your pancreas from diabetes! Your beta cell reserve is critical for prevention and treatment of diabetes.”
The SMOG index: 19.6
Total words: 455
Total number of polysyllabic words: 100
Total number of sentences: 25

It’s easy to see that most of the authors take the word count seriously, and that some of them genuinely tried to reduce the reading level and had an idea of where to start with this. None of them came anywhere close to an 8th grade reading level, and none of them were below college graduate reading level. Warning Sign #6. The writing in the abstracts was highly variable, some included grammatical errors, and there was no sign of editorial oversight. Warning Sign #7.

You get the idea of how the checking is being done. I don’t want to walk you through the excruciating details for every piece, but here are a few more criteria, and then ending with a surprise reveal.

“About Us”: Can’t tell who they are, either individuals or institution. Improper grammar & punctuation. No contact information. Contact form has email address hidden. Warning Signs 8, 9, 10.

Content Sources: Most links are to RSS feeds from major science news services, not unique or locally produced content. For the unique content, authorship is unclear (is author of the plain language abstract the same as the author of the original article?), buried deep in the page, no editor mentioned, and no contact information given for the presumed authors. The links for the original articles go back to PUBMED, not to the original publisher, and nont of them give the DOI number for the articles. Warning Signs 11, 12, 13, 14, 15.

Licensing: For a project of this sort to have the impact it is supposed to on journalists and the public, it would need to have a Creative Commons licensing structure, presumably with attribution. Instead it has
copyright, all rights reserved,” but gives no information on how to get permission to use the content. It appears that the intellectual property rights are held by the website, not by the actual authors. This is (in my opinion) terrible. Warning Signs 16, 17, 18.

Accessibility: Problems using the site on my phone. Tested desktop view, and there are a number of fatal errors, missing ALT tags, empty links, duplicated links, etc. Sloppy, sloppy coding. Nobody’s perfect, but MEDLINEplus has zero fatal errors, just for comparison. If this is from a reputable organization, I’d expect better. Warning Signs 19, 20, 21.

Now, the big surprise! While I was digging around online, I found some of the content, almost verbatim, from an authoritative site! Virtually all of the “For Authors” page is from the Technishe Universiteit, Eindhoven (TU/e). Evidently, they have or had a requirement for graduate students to write a plain language summary of their research prior to graduation. Brilliant concept! The submitted content was reviewed, edited, and selected for possible inclusion in their university research magazine, Cursor. They also had a campus website to host the content. The link for this was broken when I checked today, but the Wayback Machine has several examples over the past several years, including just a few months ago.

The big question now is whether this project is taking the Technische Universiteit model and making it bigger for the world, or was the content stolen from TU/e? There is no way to tell by looking. If this is a genuine project from TU/e, there are some changes they could make to improve the project. If the project is not theirs, I would really love to see the National Library of Medicine recreate a project like this, but done properly. They’ve proven they can. And there is a genuine need.