Archive for the ‘General’ Category
On May 14, 2014, the Board of Regents of the National Library of Medicine (NLM), the Friends of the NLM, and the Medical Library Association are co-sponsoring a symposium The National Library of Medicine, 1984-2014: Voyaging to the Future, to be held at the Natcher Center on the NIH campus in Bethesda, MD. The purpose of the symposium is to review the influence of NLM’s long range planning over the past 30 years; to reflect on key factors that contributed to successes and setbacks; and to consider opportunities for the future, all as background for the next NLM long range planning effort, to commence in 2015. The symposium is free, but registration is required. A preliminary program is also available. The symposium will be available for remote simultaneous viewing and also archived for future viewing.
In conjunction with this event, NLM is collecting written recollections and images reflecting the Library’s impacts over the last 30 years, as well as ideas for future opportunities and directions. Anyone who has advised and worked with/for NLM and/or benefited from its programs and services is encouraged to submit contributions to a moderated blog. Comments will be accepted throughout the year.
SurveyMonkey recently launched a mobile app for the iPad and iPhone, providing the ability to create, send, and monitor surveys from a phone or tablet device. The app is free, although you need a SurveyMonkey account to use it. With the new app, there’s no longer a need to rely on a computer to design and manage surveys. The app also allows convenient viewing of data from any location with Internet access. Another notable benefit is that the analytic reports are optimized for mobile devices and are easy to read on small screens. Although there is not yet an Android app, all SurveyMonkey pages and surveys are optimized for any mobile device, so surveys are easy to take regardless of the operating system used.
The American Medical Association has specific recommendations for its authors about questionnaire response rates included in the JAMA Instructions for Authors. One of the guidelines is that 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. However, 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. Fortunately, suggestions about increasing questionnaire response rates are available in two recent AEA365 blog posts that are open access:
Additional useful advice, such as making questionnaires short, personalizing your mailings, and sending full reminder packs to nonrespondents, is included in 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 National Library of Medicine has announced the launch of a new user interface for the IndexCat database, which offers a faster response time to searches; full record displays in search results; and record sorting and refinements. NLM uses the same search engine for its main Web site, as well as MedlinePlus, MedlinePlus en Español, the Directory of the History of Medicine Collections search engine, and the History of Medicine Finding Aids Consortium.
IndexCat simultaneously searches the digitized version of the printed Index-Catalogue of the Library of the Surgeon General’s Office; eTK for medieval Latin texts; and eVK2 for medieval English texts; and LocatorPlus. A post in the NLM Circulating Now blog offers additional information on IndexCat. There also are a number of new and revised FAQs and Help pages to assist with searching IndexCat. Additional details and illustrations are available in the most recent edition of the NLM Technical Bulletin.
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, which also describes the difference between public domain, royalty-free and Creative Commons-licensed images.
Stanley Capela recently presented the webinar Recipe of Evaluation Techniques for the Real World, one of the American Evaluation Association’s (AEA) ongoing 20-minute Coffee Break webinars. The webinars, offered Thursdays at 11:00 am Pacific 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 non-profit or government settings where people are seeking realistic answers in response to 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 organizational 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 and knowing you made a difference.
- Give Back – develop a network of trusted colleagues, such as through personal and organization connections on LinkedIn and other platforms, share ideas, and ask questions, since others have probably encountered a similar situation or can connect you with those who have.
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 NN/LM 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 can be tailored to meet distance learning needs by distilling them to briefer webinars or offering them in series of one-hour webinars. If you don’t see what you’re looking for on the list, then contact Susan and let her know!
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 easier to collect feedback at exhibit booths. The NN/LM Outreach Evaluation Resource Center (OERC) has explored QuickTapSurvey, which seems well-suited to getting point-of-contact responses from booth visitors. The application allows creation of 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, and can also 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 it may be worthwhile to experiment with it before taking it on the road. Further information about QuickTapSurvey, including the different pricing options, is available on the web site.
Do you want to know more about great assessment resources, tools, and lessons learned from others with an interest in evaluation? Check out the American Evaluation Association (AEA) 365 blog, 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 is to 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. Examples of recent items of potential interest include Conducting a Health Needs Assessment of People With Disabilities, with shared lessons learned from the needs assessment work done in Massachusetts, and 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 National Library of Medicine (NLM) Division of Specialized Information Services K-12 Workgroup has released classroom activities and lesson plans to supplement the Native Peoples’ Concepts of Health and Illness web site. For grades 6-12, these classroom activities and lesson plans familiarize students to the health and medicine of Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians. The activities and lesson plans use Native Voices exhibition web site content material and other NLM online educational/science resources.
The activities and lesson plans are composed of four units. Each unit introduces a different way of exploring and learning about the Native Voices exhibition in about 1.5 to 3 hours. These units are: 1) A scavenger hunt, 2) An environmental health science lesson, 3) A social science lesson, and 4) A biology lesson. While the activities and lesson plans can be used in science classrooms, clubs, and programs, they can be used also to reinforce the history and societal developments of Native peoples in social science and history classrooms.
The Native Voices Web site allows people to experience an exhibition currently on display at NLM in Bethesda, Maryland. Both versions explore the connection between wellness, illness, and cultural life through a combination of interviews with Native people and interactive media. For additional information, contact Alla Keselman, PhD, K-12 Team Leader, National Library of Medicine.