Article Summary for Lecture # 11- Schmidt and Eckerman

Schmidt and Eckerman, 2001 – “Circulation of core collection monographs…”


One problems facing medical librarians in circulation is managing time when choosing which monographs would be most useful to their patrons.  Schmidt and Eckerman explain that too large an amount of time is spent on deciding which pieces should be in circulation and available to the patron, and there is really no technology (at the time this article was written) for aiding in this task.  The medical librarians have the very difficult task of choosing the monographs for academic medical libraries. The tools currently available were either not of use to the medical librarian or were not easily obtained.

The study described here was designed to determine whether circulation of the ‘‘listed’’ books in an academic setting justified the emphasis placed on their collection. The circulation statistics for books listed by four of the core collection lists were obtained and compared to the circulation statistics for books published in the same years but not included in the core lists.

Creating collection lists and charts to see which books are circulated the most can help determine which books would be more useful than others. The collections were broken down as follows:

  1. the ‘‘Brandon/Hill Selected List of Books and Journals for the Small Medical Library’’ (1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, and 1999 editions) [18–22],
  2. the ‘‘Brandon/Hill Selected List of Books and Jour- Circulation of core collection monographs Bull Med Libr Assoc 89(2) April 2001 167
  3. the ‘‘A Library for Internists’’ list (1991, 1994, and 1997 editions) [27–29], and
  4. the list of hematology references in Morton and Godbolt’s Information Sources in the Medical Sciences

Many of these core collections lists have been created in small hospital libraries, and can aid in choosing books for larger academic hospital libraries. As always, more research is needed to determine whether this method could be used in other settings and scenarios.  Providing more information in an easier and more convenient way for the patron is always important, but helping out our librarians is equally as important.


Article Summary for Lecture #12- MacCall

2MacCall, 2006(b) – “Clinical Digital Libraries Project: Design approach…”

At the intersection of patient service and information science rests the interface, and it is the Clinical Digital Libraries Project upon which MacCall turns his analysis. The apparent goal of any online information source ought be to offer users the most relevant possible subset of information at as little cost of time or effort as possible to the user – a reasonable goal, but one which becomes even more important when time spent refining one’s query means time spent without helping a healthcare client in need.


MacCall uses web traffic log data and straightforward analytics practices to mark the start and end of each user information-seeking or -gathering session, then divides these into < 1 minute, 1-3 minute, and 3-5 minute increments. While there appears to be some variance across months, user sessions lasting less than 3 minutes total appear to be dominant and account for roughly 9 parts of 10 of the traffic seen by the resource .


Admittedly, this research is dated by a decade – a small frame in some respects, but crucial when discussing matters of the Internet and of web-based technology. Given the prevalence of powerful web analytics tools and the ease of their implementation and interpretation, a revisit of this paper may be in order – if not for purely academic purposes, then as a model for determining the quality of service and ease of access & location for online information assets.


Article Summary for Lecture #9- Maggio and Kung

Maggio & Kung, 2014 – “How are medical students trained to locate biomedical information to practice evidence-based medicine?”


Maggio & Kung directly address the way in which undergraduate level medical education teaches information retrieval skills in the context of Evidence Based Medicine – a seemingly fundamental matter for which existing research is disappointingly sparse. Their work analyzes a breadth of twelve studies into the matter and their implications for EBM educators.


There appears to be disparity with regard to when EBM and its principles – including information retrieval – ought to be introduced to students, with studies suggesting ranges from early pre-clinical education through the latest months of medical education. With respect to this disagreement, Maggio & Kung suggest a longitudinal approach.


In terms of frequency, however, there appears to be much evidence in favor of the intuitive: introducing information retrieval skills taught only once or as part of intense study phases are suboptimal, and the authors suggest providing recurring opportunities to use and practice them.


Context of education – including instructor and methodology – likewise held substantial weight. In keeping with good educational practice, students most optimally learn in an interactive environment, and healthcare is no exception. In addition to improved engagement, challenging students to use their newly-acquired information retrieval skills both practices them and familiarizes students with the controlled vocabularies of the medical community and their fields of study. Data regarding the role of interaction between students and instructors seems to have been difficult to divine for the purposes of this paper, although the authors suggest further exploration in future studies.

Article Summary for Lecture #8- Beale et al.

Beale et al., 2014 – “Choosing and using methodological search filters: searchers’ views”


Search filtering, though simple compared to the multitude of data-perusing techniques, is both a powerful and – according to Beale et al. – already widely used skill among information specialists. Their data, including more than 15 interviews and 90 questionnaires, seems to encourage further and more elaborate study into the importance of and theory behind filtering methods and archetypes.


Nearly all participants in the aforementioned claimed to use search filters, and roughly half claimed to amend published filters to suit their specific needs – suggesting that not only is filtering a widespread practice, but one understood and applied in depth by a multitude of information specialists.


Beale et al. make particular note of the difference between filters written for high-precision searches versus those written for high-sensitivity applications. The struggle between comprehensiveness and relevance is a timeless one for any field which relies on sorted information, and the art of filtering it by string queries is no exception. Nearly all participants in the authors’ study claim to use different search filters based on whether precision or sensitivity was most immediate to their investigation, suggesting that users of such techniques are far from oblivious to that struggle.


Insofar as improving the practical applications of search filtering, participants suggested that the explanations and terminology for them ought be made less technically obscure – a very reasonable perspective for any poor soul who has ever attempted to make a search by regular expressions or decode the symbols and keywords in a particularly elaborate Google query. Likewise, there appears to be much interest from this study in methods for validating the performance of given filters and understanding, as well as in developing meaningful result rating systems.

Medical Librarians as part of the health care team

I have once again stumbled upon a pot of gold for medical librarians and those of us who are yearning to become one.  This article comes from the American Dental Education Association, which is surprising for me.  Of course dental care is a part of the medical community, but at least for me, it is not the first thing that comes to mind.  This website breaks down different jobs that are offered in the medical community, and boasts that medical librarians are extremely important in this area.  Anywhere that health information is needed, librarians are needed.  It is our job, after all, to ensure that the medical professionals have all of the information they need to perform their duties.  Keeping abreast of current and future technology helps not only the doctors and nurses, but the patients receiving the care as well.

This article also gives some stats, including salaries, and how high the demand is for people in this field.  I would highly recommend this brief, but important read.

Thanks guys, and keep reading, forever and always.



Article Summary for Lecture #7- Sievert et al.

Sievert, Patrick, and Reid, 2001 – “Need a Bloody Nose be a Nosebleed?…”


In doing research for a particular piece of medical information, not everyone is going to use the same name or wording of the term.  Variants in terminology and search terms have created an entirely new area of study.  Should these variants, when typed, all lead to the same search result?  MEDLINE has an entire network devoted to making sure one can search without problems and find the answers they need even without knowing the official Medical Subject Headings (MeSH).  This article uses the example of “heart attack”, which now leads to “myocardial infarction”—a term that most people will not know to use.

However, in some cases, something as simple as searching for “nose bleed” or “bloody nose” in MEDLINE leads to complicated and off the wall responses that have nothing to do with bloody noses.  The search yielded one result dealing with “bloody nose syndrome”, and the other 19 results had nothing to do with it.  The technology separates the words, searching individually for “nose” and “bleed”, which causes a rift in the search to begin with.  Searches like these prove that MEDLINE was not intended for a layman to gather medical information.  It was built with the intention of medical professionals who regularly use MeSH to be able to navigate the database and find the information they need.  The problem then is, how can this be made more useful for other researchers?

According to the article, “Gathering all consumer terms may be an impossible goal, but studying ways to add additional lexical variants, at the very least British equivalent spellings, could significantly improve retrieval for consumers” (70).

Article Summary for Lecture #5- De Groote

De Groote et al, 2013 – “Measures of health sciences journal use…”


Access to paid journal subscriptions is a major cost – and subject of study – for libraries of every professional nature, though particularly the health sciences. Sorting high-demand and low-demand, high-importance sources from those which cost much but provide little is a crucial task in library management, and one made more difficult by disparate data.


Metrics of use for journal access come primarily from three sources: local citations, vendor reports, and link-resolver statistics for online activity. These three together must be analyzed to produce a useful picture of the importance and cost of each of a given institution’s subscriptions. Given the complexity of such models, however, it is vital to understand the relation between each of their three constituents. The ability to analyze the whole of the model from a limited input set or to identify discrepancies in expected values, as any data specialist would attest, is quite valuable.


De Groote et al. suggest that, in most cases, link-resolver data may be swapped in for vendor data, greatly simplifying the process and providing reasonable accuracy (with a Spearman rank order correlation of 84.3%).


The authors acknowledge that this model does result in some number of anomalies; however, they posit that the presence and nature of such anomalies in a given circumstance may suggest to a competent librarian the existence of issues with their institution’s vendors or online resources. Further analysis of this unexplained variance, they suggest, may also yield insights into user behavior and guide additional studies.


A cursory read of their work in this article would be wise for any individual responsible for library management decisions pertaining to online resources and subscription set optimization.

Article Summary for Lecture #3- King and Lapidus

King & Lapidus – 2015 – “Metropolis revisited: The evolving role of librarians in informatics education for the health professions


10 year follow up to ‘‘Metropolis Redux: The Unique Importance of Library Skills in Informatics (2004)


Speaking directly to the importance of the Librarian in the new century, King & Lapidus revisit a memorable piece on the ever-evolving role of librarians in the instruction, development, and practice of informatics for the healthcare industry and its practitioners. King’s work in Metropolis Redux illustrated in the early 2010s the prevalence and importance of library skills in the curricula of twenty six prominent informatics-centric programs.


Metropolis Revisisted expands this study to thirty five institutions and draws no ambiguous conclusion: librarians are deeply involved, even outside the traditional borders of their field, in both leadership and technical roles in informatics education. What’s more, King & Lapidus directly address the rising role of the Health Informaticist – an apparent threat to some roles librarian profession, but one which could be readily made an opportunity.


Indeed, as informatics deals more with the study, organization, and manipulation of data than most health specializations, it converges with the unique interpersonal and technical skills of librarians – individuals who can practice and teach others the methods and abstract concepts and needed to sort and access even obscure knowledge at a moment’s notice.


King & Lapidus favor initiative in their writing, pointing out that there exists substantial opportunity for librarians – particularly educators – to become central in the teaching and theory of informatics. They offer fairly telling data from their survey responses to emphasize this, pointing out the prevalence of librarian educators already in health informatics, and strongly suggest that the profession has more to offer in terms of both education and interdisciplinary studies.

Article Summary for Lecture #2- Kruger et al.

Kruger, Epley, Parker & Ng, 2005 – ” Egocentrism over e-mail: Can…”


Egocentric bias is an inescapable fact of most forms of communication, with no exception for electronic forms like email and text messaging. The absence of facial cues, body language gestures, and vocal tones in such correspondence puts substantial weight on what one can communicate in words alone – and the message sent isn’t always what the sender imagined. Indeed, it seems, subtleties such as sarcasm are more difficult to convey reliably than one may intuit.


Kruger, Epley, Parker, and Ng’s studies in this paper highlight several forms of this issue: their first several studies listed indicate an appreciably lower chance that the recipient of a sarcastic email will understand it as such than was predicted by the writers of those emails.


In their subsequent studies, the authors also assess the question of whether egocentricism is itself to blame in their observations. For instance, exposing the message-writing study participants to unfamiliar phenomonology by asking them to listen to a recording of themselves saying the message aloud before sending it.


Admittedly, the study isn’t all-conclusive; the specific subtleties chosen (particularly sarcasm) may not necessarily be hampered in the same degree or manner by egocentricism as others, and there may not be sufficient evidence to attribute the results exclusively to egocentric bias; however, Kruger, Epley, Parker, and Ng acknowledge these likelihoods, and present their observations with particular respect to their generalizability. Given the data available, Kruger, Epley, Parker, and Ng offer strong grounds to further explore the relationship between egocentric bias and electronic miscommunications.