Archive for the ‘Practical Evaluation’ Category
Librarians’ expert searching skills provide some great opportunities for collaboration with researchers. Biomed Central’s new open access Systematic Reviews journal is about a specialized type of expert searching that librarians can provide for their communities. More than a source of protocols and a record of others’ work, this journal has great potential for those of us in academia who want to publish articles to share information with our colleagues about what we have done.
Here’s more information from the Aims and Scope:
Systematic Reviews encompasses all aspects of the design, conduct and reporting of systematic reviews. The journal aims to publish high quality systematic review products including systematic review protocols, systematic reviews related to a very broad definition of health, rapid reviews, updates of already completed systematic reviews, and methods research related to the science of systematic reviews, such as decision modeling. The journal also aims to ensure that the results of all well-conducted systematic reviews are published, regardless of their outcome.
It is a long-term goal of the journal to ensure all systematic reviews are prospectively registered in an appropriate database, such as PROSPERO, as these resources for registration become available and are endorsed by the scientific community.
Article types include:
- Research Articles
- Review Updates
The editors-in-chief comprise an international group hailing from the University of Ottawa; the RAND corporation and UCLA; and the University of York.
Take a look at this journal! It could be a source of inspiration for any librarian whose emphasis is on expert searching.
Last month the Group Health Research Institute (GHRI) presented a webcast entitled A Healthy Dose: Strengthening Reach and Impact of Community Strategies from their background of working with stakeholders who have deep (25-30 years) experience working with community health initiatives. They have noticed a trend over the past ten years to include more information beyond the basics of the number of community members reached and initial (short term) impacts of community health projects in related reports.
GHRI have also studied data available from the Kaiser Foundation and other resources to find that the critical factor for successful long term impacts of community health projects is community involvement in them. Using the Reach Effectiveness Adoption Implementation (RE-AIM) model, which helps to best translate public health research into practice, they identified areas in projects ranging from low to high reach (fewer/greater numbers of community members involved) and low to high strength (lesser/greater impact on the health of the community).
Factors that calculate impact strength include whether a health project event is held one time or is a consistent part of the community’s environment, the degree that healthy options are the only choices available, and supporting community health projects with promotion and education. Some examples discussed during the webcast include building sidewalks (high reach, low strength) and establishing physical education classes at local schools (high reach, high strength).
The webcast recording and slides are available here, and their published findings in the American Journal of Evaluation are freely available at Using the Concept of “Population Dose” in Planning and Evaluating Community-Level Obesity Prevention Initiatives.
Did you know that the American Medical Association has a specific recommendation for its authors about questionnaire response rate? Here it is, from the JAMA Instructions for Authors:
Manuscripts reporting survey data, such as studies involving patients, clinicians, the public, or others, should report data collected as recently as possible, ideally within the past 2 years. Survey studies should have sufficient response rates (generally at least 60%) and appropriate characterization of nonresponders to ensure that nonresponse bias does not threaten the validity of the findings. For most surveys, such as those conducted by telephone, personal interviews (eg, drawn from a sample of households), mail, e-mail, or via the web, authors are encouraged to report the survey outcome rates using standard definitions and metrics, such as those proposed by the American Association for Public Opinion Research.
Meanwhile, response rates to questionnaires have been declining over the past 20 years, as reported by the Pew Research Center in “The Problem of Declining Response Rates.” Why should we care about the AMA’s recommendation regarding questionnaire response rates? Many of us will send questionnaires to health care professionals who, like physicians, are very busy and might not pay attention to our efforts to learn about them. Even JAMA authors such as Johnson and Wislar have pointed out that “60% is only a “rule of thumb” that masks a more complex issue.” (Johnson TP; Wislar JS. “Response Rates and Nonresponse Errors in Surveys.” JAMA, May 2, 2012—Vol 307, No. 17, p.1805) These authors recommend that we evaluate nonresponse bias in order to characterize differences between those who respond and those who don’t. These standard techniques include:
- Conduct a follow-up survey with nonrespondents
- Use data about your sampling frame and study population to compare respondents to nonrespondents
- Compare the sample with other data sources
- Compare early and late respondents
Johnson and Wislar’s article is not open access, unfortunately, but you can find more suggestions about increasing response rates to your questionnaires in two recent AEA365 blog posts that are open access:
Find more useful advice (e.g., make questionnaires short, personalize your mailings, send full reminder packs to nonrespondents) at this open access article: Sahlqvist S, et al., “Effect of questionnaire length, personalisation and reminder type on response rate to a complex postal survey: randomised controlled trial.” BMC Medical Research Methodology 2011, 11:62
The current trend in evaluation reporting is toward fewer words and more images. There are a number of companies that offer high-quality, royalty free photographs at minimal cost. (Stockfresh, for example, charges as little as $1 per image.) However, no-cost is even better than low-cost. Freelancers Union, a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting freelance workers, recently published a list of the best websites for no-cost images. If you are looking for free images for your presentations or reports, check out their article:
(The article also describes the difference between public domain, royalty-free and Creative Commons-licensed images.)
Last week I attended a webinar presentation from Stanley Capela entitled Recipe of Evaluation Techniques for the Real World. This is one of the American Evaluation Association’s (AEA) ongoing 20 minute Coffee Break webinars . The webinars, offered Thursdays at 2pm Eastern time, often present similar tools and tips that are also covered in the Tip a Day blog but allow for audience questions & answers and networking with the presenters.
Capela’s recipe focused primarily on internal evaluation in a non-profit or government settings where people are seeking realistic answers in response to your assessment efforts. His tips include:
- Value People’s Time – all time is valuable, regardless of who you are working with, and clear communication on the intent of the evaluation helps to make the best use of everyone’s time.
- Ethical Conduct – working within the parameters of organization and/or professional association codes of conducts in addition to established support of upper level administration will help to minimize the potential for ethical dilemmas.
- Know Your Enemies – be aware of those who are resistant to program evaluation and may try to undermine these efforts, and also know that you as an evaluator may be perceived as an enemy by others. Again, clear communication helps!
- Culture of Accountability – take the time to know the story of those you are working with – where are they coming from? What is their history with previous assessments? Were their needs met, or were there issues that had negative effects on relationships and outcomes?
- Do Something – avoid cycles of conducting reviews, identifying deficiencies, and outcomes that only include developing correction plans. Also important to note is that program evaluation does not solve management problems.
- A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words – find ways to integrate charts that direct the reader to the most important information clearly and concisely.
- Let Go of Your Ego – working from a mindset that accepts the people conducting the program itself will most likely ‘get the credit’, and that your measure of success is doing your job to the best of your ability knowing you made a difference.
- Give Back – develop of network of trusted colleagues, such as through personal and organization connections on LinkedIn and other platforms, share ideas, and asking questions since others have probably encountered a similar situation or can connect you with those who have.
Hopefully you have found the information we at the Outreach Evaluation Resource Center (OERC) have freely available for you in our updated Evaluation Guides helpful as an additional source of ideas, strategies, and worksheets to include in your evaluation recipe collection!
The National Network of Libraries of Medicine Outreach Evaluation Resource Center (OERC) offers a range of webinars and workshops upon request by network members and coordinators from the various regions. Take a look at the list and see if one of the options appeals to you. To request a workshop or webinar, contact Susan Barnes.
The workshops were designed as face-to-face learning opportunities but we can tailor them to meet distance learning needs by distilling them to briefer webinars or offering them in series of 1-hour webinars.
Don’t see what you’re looking for on this list? Then please contact Susan and let her know!
We’re looking forward to hearing from you.
Exhibiting is a popular strategy for health information resource promotion, but exhibits can be challenging events to evaluate. Survey platforms for tablets and mobile phones can make it a little bit easier to collect feedback at your booths. At the OERC, we have explored QuickTapSurvey, which seems well-suited to getting point-of-contact responses from visitors. The application allows you to create short, touch-screen questionnaires on Apple or Android tablets. You simply hand the tablet to visitors for their quick replies. The same questionnaire can be put on multiple tablets, so you and your colleagues can collect responses simultaneously during an exhibit.
When you have an Internet connection, responses are automatically uploaded into your online QuickTapSurvey account. When no connection is available, data are stored on the tablet and uploaded later. You can use QuickTapSurvey’s analytics to summarize responses with statistics and graphs. You also can download the data into a spreadsheet to analyze in Excel.
QuickTapSurvey is a commercial product, but there is a limited free version. The application is fairly user friendly, but we recommend experimenting with it before you take it on the road. Information about QuickTapSurvey, including the different pricing packages that are available, can be found here: http://quicktapsurvey.com/
Do you want to know more about great assessment resources, tools, and lessons learned from others who share your interest in evaluation?
Do you not want to add another professional journal to the existing TBR (to be read) stack in your office?
Check out the American Evaluation Association (AEA) 365 blog at http://aea365.org where anyone (not only AEA members) can subscribe via email or really simple syndication (RSS) feed. The established blog guidelines place a cap on contributions with a maximum of 450 words per entry. You will know at a glance what the subject is (Hot Tips, Cool Tricks, Rad Resources, or Lessons Learned) from the headers used within the entries, and all assumptions of prior knowledge and experience with evaluation and organizations are avoided with clarification of all acronyms and no jargon allowed.
A handy tip – Scroll down the right sidebar of the website to locate subjects arranged by the AEA Topical Interest Groups (TIGs). Some of these that are likely to be of interest to National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM) members are Data Visualization and Reporting, Disabilities and Other Vulnerable Populations, Health Evaluation, Integrating Technology into Evaluation, and Nonprofits and Foundations Evaluation to name only a few.
A brief review of a recent entry of interest to NN/LM members – Conducting a Health Needs Assessment of People With Disabilities - shared lessons learned from the needs assessment work done in Massachusetts, and shared the rad resource of Disability and Health Data System (DHDS) with state-level disability health data available from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC).
The Nielsen Norman Group (NNG) conducts research and publishes information about user experience with interfaces. NNG was an early critic of the troubled “healthcare.gov” web site: “Healthcare.gov’s Account Setup: 10 Broken Usability Guidelines.” recent post (“Talking with participants during a usability test”) provided tips for facilitating usability tests that could be very useful whenever you’re facilitating a discussion or conducting an observation. When in doubt about whether to speak to a participant, count to 10 and decide whether to say something. Consider using “Echo” or “Boomerang” or “Columbo” approaches:
- Echo–repeat the last words or phrase, using an interrogatory tone.
- Boomerang–formulate a nonthreatening question that “pushes” a user’s comment back and causes them to think of a response for you, such as “What would you do if you were on your own?”
- Columbo–be smart but don’t act that way, as in the “Columbo” TV series from the 1960′s and 1970′s starring Peter Falk.
The full article “Talking with participants during a usability test” provides audio examples of these techniques that you can listen to. You can find a large amount of additional information about usability testing on the Nielsen Norman Group’s web site, such as “How to Conduct Usability Studies” and “Usability 101: Introduction to Usability.”
So how are those New Year’s resolutions going?
Many of us like to start the year resolving to clean up some part of our lives. Our diet. Our spending habits. The five years of magazine subscriptions sitting by our recliner.
Here’s another suggestion: Resolve to clean up “chart junk” in the charts you add to PowerPoint presentations or written reports.
Now I can pack information into a bar chart with the best of them. But it is no longer in vogue to clutter charts with data labels, gridlines, and detailed legends. This is not just a fashion statement, either. Design experts point out that charts should make their point without the inclusion of a bunch of distracting details. If the main point of your chart is not visually obvious, you either have not designed it correctly or you are presenting a finding that is not particularly significant.
So the next time you create a chart, consider these suggestions:
- Use your title to communicate the main point of the chart. Take a tip from newspaper headlines and make your title a complete sentence.
- Don’t use three-dimensional displays. It interferes with people’s comprehension of charts.
- Ditch the gridlines or make them faint so they don’t clutter the view.
- Use contrast to make your point. Add a bright color to the bar or line that carries the main point and use gray or another faint color for the comparison bars or lines.
- Be careful in picking colors. Use contrasting colors that are distinguishable to people with colorblindness. If your report is going to be printed, be sure the contrast still shows up when presented in black-and-white.
- Consider not using data labels, or just label the bar or line associated with your main point.
- Remove legends and apply legend labels inside the bars or at the end of lines.
For more comprehensive information on eliminating chart junk, check out this article:
Evergreen S, Mezner C. Design principles for data visualization in evaluation. In Azzam T, Evergreen S. (eds). Data visualization, part 2. New Directions in Evaluation. Winter 2013, 5-20.