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Archive for the ‘Communications Tools’ Category

“Citing Medicine: The NLM Style Guide for Authors, Editors, and Publishers” Has Over 40 New Examples!

Over forty new examples have been added throughout Citing Medicine, the NLM style guide for authors, editors, and publishers. New references are for datasets, data repositories, ahead-of-print articles, and more. Corrections and clarifications were made based on user feedback or our own quality assurance efforts. Almost every chapter and two of the appendixes were edited and a new foreword was added. The full list of changes is available in the Content Updates appendix.

Resource for Writing Mission Statements

Mission statements are important. Organizations use them to declare to the world how their work matters. For employees, they guide efforts toward supporting organizational priorities. And mission statements are important to evaluators, because evaluation methods are ultimately designed to assess an organization’s value. Having those values explicitly stated is very helpful. The Nonprofit Hub’s document A Step-By-Step Exercise for Creating a Mission Statement is a tool that succintly lays out an effective 1-2 hour process to engage multiple stakeholders in the development of a mission statement, starting with a foundation of shared stories about the organization’s best work. In the end, everyone understands and endorses the mission statement because they helped develop it.

This exercise has potential that reaches beyond development of mission statements. It would be a great exercise for advisory groups to contribute their ideas about future activities, based on the organization’s past successes. The stories generated are data that can be analyzed for organizational impact. The group qualitative analysis process, alone, could be adapted to other situations. For example, a small project team could use the process to analyze stories from interviews, focus groups, or even written comments to open-ended survey questions.

Designing Questionnaires for the Mobile Age

How does your web survey look on a handheld device? The Pew Research Center reported that 27% of respondents to one of its recent surveys answered using a smartphone, and another 8% used a tablet. That means over one-third of participants used handheld devices to answer the questionnaire. The lesson learned is unless you are absolutely sure your respondents will be using a computer, you need to design surveys with mobile devices in mind. As a public opinion polling organization, the Pew Center knows effective practices in survey research. It offers advice on developing questionnaires for handhelds in its article Tips for Creating Web Surveys for Completion on a Mobile Device. The top suggestion is to be sure your survey software is optimized for smartphones and tablets. SurveyMonkey fits this criterion, as do many other popular Web survey applications.

Software alone will not automatically create surveys that are usable on handheld devices. It is also important to follow effective design principles, such as keeping it simple and using short question formats. Avoid matrix-style questions. Keep the length of your survey short. And don’t get fancy with questionnaires which include logos and icons, which take longer to load on smart devices. It is also advisable to pilot test questionnaires on computers, smartphones, and tablets, to be sure to offer a smooth user experience to all of your respondents.

Story Builder Tool for Program Success Stories

This story builder tool available from the CDC Injury Prevention and Control web site involves three steps to produce an attractive, well-written program success story. Each step offers downloadable Microsoft Word documents to walk you through the process.

  • Step 1: The worksheets are designed to gather and organize project information for your story. This step could be used as a participatory activity, for example you could pull together your project team or a group of stakeholders to talk through questions in this worksheet. The discussion would help group members articulate the program’s value from their perspective.
  • Step 2: This step provides a story builder template to write your story, section by section. Each section has a field to develop a paragraph of your story, with some tips for writing in a compelling, user-friendly way. Each completed field prepares you for the final step.
  • Step 3: Here, you can download a layout template, where you transfer the paragraphs from your story builder template into the layout. Because this is a Word document, you can change background design, font, or even the size and placement of pictures and call-out quote boxes.

Telling Good Stories about Good Programs

Sometimes program successes are a well-kept secret, buried deeply in final reports under pages of statistics, tables, and descriptive details. There is a way to shine a stronger light on positive program impacts: program success stories. These are short (1-2 page) narratives designed to educate policy makers, attract partners, and share effective practices among colleagues. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention deserves credit in leading a program success story movement within the public health sector. Many resources for developing program success stories are available from the CDC’s website. And a quick Google search will turn up many success story web pages from public health departments, such as the following three examples:

If you want to create success stories for your program or organization, you need to start with a plan, and establish a routine to collect information in a timely manner. To get started, check out the CDC Division of Oral Health’s Tips for Writing an Effective Success Story. For more details, the CDC offers the workbook Impact and Value: Telling Your Program’s Story. The CDC Division of Adolescent and School Health also has a how-to guide for writing success stories: How to Develop a Success Story. And lastly, you might find Success Story Data Collection Tool to be helpful for organizing and writing your program story. A data collection sheet could be particularly useful if multiple team members are involved in collecting success story data. The data collection tool is available in PDF or Word formats.

New ACRL Publication for Teaching Information Literacy

ACRL has just announced the new publication Teaching Information Literacy Threshold Concepts: Lesson Plans for Librarians, edited by Patricia Bravender, Hazel McClure, and Gayle Schaub. The book’s collection of lesson plans is designed by instruction librarians to promote critical thinking and engaged learning. It provides teaching librarians detailed, ready-to-use, and easily adaptable ideas to help students understand and be transformed by information literacy threshold concepts. The lessons in the book, created by teaching librarians across the country, are categorized according to the six information literacy frames identified in the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education (2015). This volume offers concrete and specific ways of teaching the threshold concepts that are central to the ACRL Framework and is suitable for all types of academic libraries and high school libraries, as well as a pedagogical tool for library and information schools.

NLM Theater Presentations at MLA 2015

The NLM exhibit booth at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the Medical Library Association in Austin, TX, featured theater presentations to bring users up-to-date on several NLM products and services. The presentation recordings are captioned and accessible from the NLM Distance Education Program Resources page. The presentations include:

Note: To listen to the voice recordings and view the captions you may need the latest version of Flash® Player (download for free from the Adobe Web site). To maximize the presentation, use the Full Screen button. For more information, go to the NLM Technical Bulletin page.

Low Cost Mapping Tools on NLM’s Community Health Maps Blog

Have you ever wanted to be able to use mapping for your outreach needs, but thought that making maps would be too expensive, time-consuming, or just too difficult? The main goal of the National Library of Medicine’s Community Health Maps: Information on Low Cost Mapping Tools for Community-based Organizations blog is facilitating the use of geographic information system (GIS) mapping by providing information about low cost mapping tools, software reviews, best practices, and the experiences of those who have successfully implemented a mapping workflow as part of their work. The blog is moderated by Kurt Menke, a certified GIS professional.

Here are some examples of the kinds of things you can find on the Community Health Maps blog:

  • A short guide for using iForm for field data collection. iForm is an app that can be used on iPads, iPhones and Android devices, and has a free version. Using this app, you can go to different locations, gather data (for example, demographic information about attendance at your program), and view it in tabular or map format.
  • A description of a project using youth in the Philippines to collect data on the needs of their communities. Technology + Youth = Change showed how a dozen donated phones helped 30 young adults survey and map information on access to water, electricity, jobs, and more.
  • A review of a pilot project done by the Seattle Indian Health Board’s Urban Indian Health Institute on noise pollution and health in the urban environment.

Indexes Tab Removed from NLM Technical Bulletin Navigation Bar

As of April 21, 2015, the “Indexes” tab was removed from the NLM Technical Bulletin navigation bar. Instead, use the search box in the top right corner of every page to find articles and other content published from 1969 to present. Articles and other content from 1969 – 1996 are available as PDF; from 1997 forward are available as HTML.

Keep It Simple with Micro-Surveys

A hot trend in marketing research is the micro-survey. Also known as the bite-sized survey, these questionnaires are short (about three questions) with the goal of collecting focused feedback to guide specific action. The micro-survey is a technique for overcoming what is arguably the biggest hurdle in survey assessment: Getting people to respond to your questionnaire. It is a technique that is particularly useful for populations where mobile technology use is on the rise, and where there is competition for everyone’s attention in any given moment. To better expect respondents to answer questionnaires, don’t burden them with long, matrix-like questions or require them to flip through numerous web pages. Keep things simple, or respondents will be lost before they ever get to the submit button.

The trick to micro-surveys is to keep them short, but administer multiple questionnaires over time. For example, break down a traditional membership or customer questionnaire into several micro-surveys and distribute them periodically. The length of the survey is not the only factor contributing to response rate. Follow the Dillman method, which provides time-tested guidelines for administering surveys. Also, take a look at Champagne’s Nine Principles of Embedded Assessment. His website has articles and YouTube videos on how to implement these principles. If you want to try doing a micro-survey, check out the effective practices described in this blog article from the marketing research company Instantly.