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Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Photovoice Evaluation Guides

Photovoice is an evaluation method that engages program stakeholders (learners, service recipients, community members) in taking photographs and using them as springboards to express their experiences and points of view. With the prevalence of cameras in mobile devices, along with social media forums, many of us are already engaged in the foundational practices underlying photovoice: taking photos, posting them, and sharing our experiences. Add in some facilitators who provide systematic method design, project management and ethical oversight; and you have the potential to gather program insights that would go untouched through traditional methods. The following two practical resources are written by action researchers describing their lessons learned about conducting photovoice projects. The documents also show you or link you to photos and commentary from contributing participants.

One comprehensive guide comes from the Prairie Women’s Health Centre of Excellence (PWHCE), located in Canada. The center engages in collaborative, community-based research on social and other determinants of the health of women and girls. The center’s mission is to provide expert advice on social policies related to women’s health. The authors (Beverly Palibroda, Brigette Krieg, Lisa Murdock and Joanne Havelock) published A Practical Guide To Photovoice: Sharing Pictures, Telling Stories and Changing Communities, a nuts-and-bolts photovoice manual. It provides detailed advice, with periodic sidebars summarizing process. An appendix includes a helpful checklist. You will find sample photovoice entries throughout the document. The manual was written in 2009. Since then, the PWHCE has introduced digital story-telling into its portfolio of participatory methods. 

Another guide was produced based on a photovoice project for, an educational website providing authoritative information about brain injury symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment. The project featured the stories of eight members with traumatic brain injury, with a gallery of essays. Facilitators Laura Lorenz and Barbara Webster developed a succinct facilitator guide based on this project.

NLM Adds Papers of Congressman John E. Fogarty to Profiles in Science Resource

Now available from the National Library of Medicine is an extensive selection from the John E. Fogarty Papers at Providence College, on the National Library of Medicine’s Profiles in Science web site. Profiles in Science is a digital project of the Library that provides online access to archival collections of twentieth-century leaders in science, medicine, and public health. John Edward Fogarty (1913–1967) was an American legislator who became known as “Mr. Public Health” for his outstanding advocacy of federal funding for medical research, health education, and health care services. As Democratic representative for Rhode Island, he served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1941 to 1967, and chaired the House Appropriations Subcommittee for the Departments of Labor and Health, Education, and Welfare beginning in 1949. Under his leadership the budget for NIH grew from $37 million in 1949 to $1.24 billion in 1967. In 1947, Fogarty became convinced that more medical research and better health services were the surest way to help Americans prosper. As chairman of the subcommittee, he worked with a bipartisan coalition to rapidly expand funding for research at the National Institutes of Health, and to fund improved health and educational services for blind, deaf, and mentally disabled children. Fogarty also sponsored many bills for the construction of research facilities, expansion of medical, dental, and public health programs, and construction of community mental health centers. In fact, he contributed to virtually every piece of health-related legislation passed during this time. Fogarty’s achievements also included legislation to support medical and public libraries, including NLM.

The John E. Fogarty Papers Profiles in Science site features correspondence, legislative records, speeches, interviews, and photographs from the John E. Fogarty Papers held by the Phillips Memorial Library, Special and Archival Collections at Providence College in Providence, RI, along with photographs and other materials provided by the Fogarty family. Visitors to Profiles in Science can view, for example, photos from Fogarty’s early career, correspondence with constituents and colleagues, and the journal he kept during his Navy service in 1945. The site also includes a 2014 interview with former Congressman and Secretary of Defense Melvin R. Laird, whose bi-partisan partnership with Congressman Fogarty was instrumental in passing many pieces of legislation related to health care and medical research. The interview with Secretary Laird was made possible through the generosity of Mary Fogarty McAndrew. An in-depth historical narrative leads to a wide range of primary source materials that provide a window into John Fogarty’s life and major contributions to the growth of medical research, public health, and social legislation. Visitors may also view a brief chronology of Fogarty’s life, and a further readings page, as well as search and browse the collection.

Give Your Elevator Pitch a Lift!

Forget about elevator speeches. Think elevator conversations instead. Elevator pitches are one of a number of strategies you may use to stealthily promote your organization’s successful programs and services, which generally consist of little promotional speeches of elevator-ride length that you can slip into small talk when you run in to “someone influential.” You can add nuggets of evaluation findings to these mini-speeches to demonstrate program value. But you may be missing a key element in the elevator pitch exchange: the other person. For insight, review the article by Tim David, Your Elevator Pitch Needs an Elevator Pitch, which appeared in the Harvard Business Review (10 December 2014), and emphasizes the importance of engaging your fellow elevator traveler, rather than talking “at” him or her. This leads to a conversation rather than a speech. It is notable how the author seamlessly slips in evidence to support his low-key pitch. For example, he surreptitiously inserts a statistic that he must have obtained from a follow-up evaluation with one of his client organizations that productivity and morale increased 38% after his training, to help underscore the value his service provided to the organization.

Here are several other tips from the article:

  • Answer polite but perfunctory questions (such as “what does your office do?”) with a surprising answer.
  • Use questions to draw your elevator companion into the conversation. David suggests that you talk no more than 20% of the time. Yield the remainder of the time to the other traveler, but use questions to keep the conversation rolling.
  • Don’t worry too much about that 20-second time frame traditionally recommended for elevator pitches. If you successfully engage your fellow rider, he or she will hold the elevator door open to continue the chat.

The elevator pitch format is a good addition to your story-telling tool kit. But it may take some practice to be able to present an elevator pitch casually and conversationally. If you’re up for that challenge, then check out Tim David’s article for some excellent guidelines!

Online Survey Tools: A Review of Reviews

Recently the NN/LM Outreach Evaluation Resource Center (OERC) investigated web sites offering reviews of multiple online survey tools, yielding the following list of five resources as a starting point. In addition, there are individual reviews of online survey products on a variety of websites and blogs, which are not included in this list.’s Ultimate Guide to Forms and Surveys, Chapter 7 “The 20 Best Online Survey Builder Tools”
This resource compares 20 different online survey tools. There is a chart with a brief statement of what each survey tool does best, what you get for free, and the lowest plan cost. Additionally, there is a paragraph description of each tool and what it does best. Note: this is part of an eBook published in 2015 which includes chapters like “The Best Online Form Builders for Every Task.”’s “18 Awesome Survey & Poll Apps”
This review was posted on May 27, 2015, which reassures that the information is most likely up to date. While there are very brief descriptions, it is good for a quick comparison of the survey products. Each review includes whether or not there is a free account, if the surveys can be customized, and whether or not there are ready-made templates.’s “Top Survey Software Products”
This resource appears almost too good to be true. However, no date shown means that the specificity in the comparisons might not be accurate. Nevertheless, this website lists over 200 survey software products, has separate profile pages on each product (with varying amounts of detail), and lists features that each product offers. You can even narrow down the surveys you are looking for by filtering by feature. Hopefully the features in Capterra’s database are kept updated for each product. One thing to mention is that at least two fairly well-known survey products are not in their list.’s “Top 31 Free Survey Apps”
Another review site with no date listed. This one compares 31 apps by popularity, presumably in the year the article was written. One thing that is unique about this review site is that the in-depth review includes the history and popularity of the app, the differences of each app to other apps, and recommended users for each app. Many of the reviews include videos showing how to use the app.’s 2015 Best Survey Software Reviews and Comparisons
This website has the feel of Consumer Reports. It has a long article explaining why you would use survey software, how and what the reviewers tested, and the kinds of things that are important when selecting survey software. Also like Consumer Reports, it has ratings of each product (including the experiences of the business, the respondents, and the quality of the support), and individual reviews of each product showing pros and cons. With the date included in the title of the review, the information is most likely current.

HHS Issues Notice of Proposed Revised Regulations to Protect Participants in Research Studies

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) to revise the Common Rule for the protection of human participants in research. It is now posted on the Federal Register’s public inspection website and will appear on Tuesday, September 8, in the printed version of the Federal Register for a 90-day public comment period. The major reforms propose to: 1) calibrate oversight to level of risk; 2) enhance respect for research participants; 3) facilitate broad participation in research; 4) increase privacy and security safeguards for research with biospecimens and data; 5) simplify consent documents; and 6) streamline IRB review. All interested stakeholders are encouraged to review the proposed revisions and make comments.

Improve Your Data Storytelling in 30 Days!

Juice Analytics has developed a practical guide to explore how data visualization and storytelling techniques can mix, 30 Days to Data Storytelling. The guide provides a checklist of daily activities lasting no longer than 30 minutes per day. Activities include articles to read, videos to watch, or small projects to complete. The guide links to data visualization and storytelling resources from sources as varied as Pixar, the Harvard Business Review, Ira Glass, the New York Times, and Bono, the lead singer of U2. Use the techniques in this guide to tell a story to report your evaluation data so it gets the attention it deserves!

NIH Posts Vacancy Announcement for National Library of Medicine Director

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD, is seeking applications from exceptional candidates who are energetic, innovative, and solution-oriented for the important position of Director, National Library of Medicine (NLM). This is a senior position with responsibilities focused on the direction and management of the world’s largest biomedical library and electronic information and data resources that are used billions of times each year by millions of people and thousands of computer systems worldwide. The NLM will also move towards becoming the epicenter for biomedical data science, not just at NIH, but across the biomedical research enterprise, and will include the activities initiated under the Big Data to Knowledge program. The NLM has a staff of approximately 1600 employees including full-time equivalency positions, training positions, contractors, volunteers, and guest researchers. The current annual budget is $387,134,000.

Applicants must submit a current CV and bibliography electronically to Ms. Regina Reiter, (301) 402-1130. In addition, applicants must also submit a supplemental narrative statement that addresses the qualifications requirements (not to exceed a total of two pages), a vision statement (not to exceed a total of two pages), and provide the names, titles, email addresses, and telephone numbers of 4-5 references. Applications will be reviewed starting October 20, 2015 and will be accepted until the position is filled.

This position offers a unique and exciting opportunity for an exceptional leader to serve as the chief visionary for NLM and lead all aspects of this highly complex organization. The Director, NLM, serves as the principal advisor to the Director, NIH, concerning matters related to biomedical informatics and access to biomedical information. Applicants must possess a Ph.D., M.D., or comparable doctorate degree in a field of health science plus senior-level scientific experience and knowledge of research programs in one or more areas related to biomedical informatics, computational biology, data science and standards, biomedical communications, and health information technology. The individual should be known and respected, both nationally and internationally, within their profession as someone of scientific prominence, with a distinguished record of research accomplishments and leadership credentials.

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.

Request for Information (RFI) for NIH-wide Five-Year Strategic Plan: Comments Due by 8/16/15!

In response to a request from the US Congress, NIH is developing a 5-year NIH-wide Strategic Plan to advance its mission and outline a vision for biomedical research that ultimately extends healthy life and reduces illness and disability. NIH senior leadership and staff have developed a proposed framework for the Strategic Plan that identifies areas of opportunity across all biomedicine and unifying principles to guide NIH’s support of the biomedical research enterprise. The Strategic Plan is due to Congress in late December 2015.

NIH has issued a Request for Information (RFI) seeking input from stakeholders throughout the scientific research community and the general public regarding the proposed framework for the NIH-wide Strategic Plan. You are invited to review the framework and submit feedback by visiting the NIH web site or the RFI submission site. Comments are due by August 16.

Stakeholder organizations (e.g., patient advocacy groups, professional societies) are urged to submit a single response reflective of the views of the organization/membership as a whole. NIH will also be hosting webinars to gather additional input in early to mid-August. Your feedback is vital to ensuring that the NIH Strategic Plan positions biomedical research on a promising and visionary path!

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.