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Archive for the ‘Non-NLM Resources’ Category

Pie Charts: Pros and Cons

Data visualization expert Stephen Few explained the problem with pie charts during this interview with the New York Times: “When looking at parts of a whole, the primary task is to rank them to see the relative performance of the parts. That can’t be done easily when relying on angles formed by a slice.” An article by American Evaluation Association’s president-elect John Gargani argues for retirement of the venerable pie chart. He make points that are repeated in many anti-pie chart blog posts. On the other hand, this post by Bruce Gabrielle of Speaking PowerPoint describes situations where pie charts can shine.

In general, most experts believe that the times and places to use pie charts are few and far between. If you have found one of those rare times, then here’s a post at Better Evaluation with design tips to follow. And for humorous examples of what not to do, check out Michael Friendly’s Evil Pies blog!

How to Throw a Data Party

A data party is another name for a kind of participatory data analysis, where stakeholders are gathered together to help analyze data that you have collected. Here are some reasons to include stakeholders in the data analysis stage:

  • It allows stakeholders to get to know and engage with the data.
  • Stakeholders may bring context to the data that will help explain some of the results.
  • When stakeholders participate in analyzing the data, they are more likely to understand and use it.
  • Watching their interactions often reveals the person with the power to act on your recommendations.

To begin the process, you need to know what you hope to gain from the attendees, since you may only be able to hold an event like this one time. There are a number of different ways to organize the event, such as the World Cafe format, where everyone works together to explore a set of questions, or an Open Space system in which attendees create their own agenda about which questions they want to discuss. Recently the American Evaluation Association held a very successful online unconference using MIT’s Unhangout, an approach that could be used for an online data party with people from multiple locations.

Here are suggested questions to ask at a data party:

  • What does this data tell you?
  • How does this align with your expectations?
  • What do you think is occurring here and why?
  • What other information do you need to make this actionable?

At the end of the party it might be time to present some of your findings and recommendations. Considering the work that they have done, stakeholders may be more willing to listen, since people often tend to support what they helped to create.

Infographics Guide from NIH Library Informationists

The Medical Library Association’s October 28 continuing education webinar, Data Visualization Skills and Tools for Librarians, was presented by Lisa Federer, Research Data Informationist at the NIH Library. The session provided information on different aspects of data visualization, including information about elements of design, such as color, line, and contrast. Lisa has also created the LibGuide Creating Infographics with Inkscape, which contains the resources for a class she taught with NIH Informationist Chris Belter. The LibGuide includes a Power Point presentation from the lecture part of the class. The slides cover design principles and design elements with links to resources such as Vischeck, a tool for finding out how colors in a chart appear to someone who is color blind, and The 10 Commandments of Typography, with suggestions for choosing font combinations that work well.

The second part of the class is a hands-on section for using Inkscape, a free, open-source graphics program, to make infographics. Inkscape allows you to use “vector graphics” to design infographics. Vector graphics are useful for image design, since they are based on pathways defined by mathematical expressions like lines, curves, and triangles, allowing images to get larger and smaller without losing any quality. If this sounds hard to do, there are Inkscape tutorials available to help. Other vector graphics editors are available, such as Apache OpenOffice Draw, a free service, or Adobe Illustrator. Comparisons with links to detailed information are available in Wikipedia’s “Comparison of Vector Graphics Editors.”

NIH Image Gallery Now on Flickr

Screen shot of the new NIH Image Gallery on FlickrLooking for health or science related images? The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently launched the NIH Image Gallery on Flickr. The Image Gallery offers a wide variety of scientific, biomedical and disease related imagery as well as photos of NIH leadership, labs, buildings and major historical events. Additionally, you can find NIH infographics, b-roll, and the latest research images.

The Flickr site was developed as a means to distribute images to the press and public while ensuring proper license, permissions and copyright protections are documented. The majority of the images offered are free to reuse with proper credit given. The content in the NIH Flickr site will be continuously updated. View the gallery on Flickr and follow the NIH Image Gallery to stay connected. If you cannot find the image you are looking for, you may email a request.

Tips for Writing Effective Survey Invitations

You may think of a survey invitation letter or email message as simply a delivery mechanism to send the questionnaire link to prospective respondents. The invitation may be an afterthought, hastily composed after the process of developing the questionnaire itself. However, a carefully crafted invitation has been proven to boost response rates, which are a key concern when conducting surveys. The following tips for writing invitation messages are all included in the 4th edition of Internet, Phone, Mail, and Mixed-Mode Surveys: The Tailored Design Method, by Dillman, Smyth, and Christian (2014), an excellent resource for conducting all aspects of the survey process. It is evidence-based, drawing on an extensive body of research literature on survey practice.

Think of the survey invitation as a “communication plan,” utilizing multiple contacts with participants to elicit good response rates. Plan for a minimum of four contacts:

  • A preliminary message to let your participants know you will be sending them a questionnaire. (Do not include the questionnaire link)
  • An invitation message with a link to the questionnaire (2-3 days after the preliminary contact).
  • A reminder notice, preferably only to those who have not responded (one week after the invitation message).
  • A final reminder notice, also specifically to those who have not responded (one week after the first reminder).

Emphasize how the participants’ feedback will help your organization improve services or programs. This simple request appeals to a common desire among humans to help others. If applicable, emphasize that you need their advice specifically because of their special experience or expertise. It is best to use mail merge to personalize your email messages, so that each participant is personally invited by name to submit their feedback. If you are contacting people who have a relationship with your organization, such as your library users or members of your organization, play up that relationship. Also, make a commitment to share results with them at a later date. And be sure to keep that commitment!

Phishing and email scams may cause leeriness about clicking on links if an email message seems odd in any way. Make sure participants know they can trust your invitation email and survey link. Take opportunities to publicize your institutional affiliation. Incorporate logos or letterhead into your emails, when possible. Provide names, email addresses, and phone numbers of one or two members of your evaluation team, so participants know who to contact with questions or to authenticate the source of the email request. You may never get a call, but they will feel better about answering questions if you give them convenient access to a member of the project team. It is also helpful to get a public endorsement of your survey project from someone who is known and trusted by your participants. You can ask someone influential in your organization to send the preliminary letter or message on your behalf. Also, publicize the project over social media channels or through organizational newsletters or blogs.

Be explicit about who will have access to individual-level data. Be sure you know the difference between anonymity (where no one knows what any given participant specifically said) and confidentiality (where identifiable comments are seen by a few specific people). You can also let participants know how you will protect their identity, but don’t go overboard. Long explanations also can cast doubt on the trustworthiness of your invitation.

And finally, provide status updates when sending reminder messages. If you mention that you are getting great feedback from other respondents, it may motivate the late responders who want to match the behavior of their peers!

Now Available: Presentation Slides and Session Recordings for 2015 Science Boot Camp West for Librarians

Video recordings and slide presentations for most sessions of the 2015 Science Boot Camp West for Librarians are now available. The meeting was held July 27-29, 2015, at Stanford University. Video files are large and best viewed by downloading rather than watching online. The full meeting agenda is also available.

Register Now for Spanish Language Webinar on Promotores de Salud E-Learning Program on October 14!

In observance of Hispanic Heritage Month, the Office of Minority Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), will host a Spanish-language webinar discussing Promoting Healthy Choices and Community Changes: An E-learning Program for Promotores de Salud on Wednesday, October 14, at 11:30 AM PDT. Registration is required to join the webinar. The e-learning program is designed to build the capacity of promotores de salud to promote better health among individuals and communities. The e-learning program is available in both Spanish and English at no cost to participants. It provides promotores de salud with basic knowledge to promote healthy choices, and strategies to motivate behavioral changes among the community members they serve. Speakers on the webinar will discuss how the e-learning program may help promotores de salud talk to community members about chronic disease management.

HHS Launches Resources System to Improve Disaster Preparedness

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), the Technical Resources, Assistance Center, and Information Exchange (TRACIE) features resource materials, a help line, just-in-time suggestions and tools to share information gleaned from real-life experiences in preparing for, responding to and recovering from disasters. This effort resulted from the collaborative efforts of local, state and federal government agencies, regional health-care coalitions, academia, and partners from the private sector and nongovernmental organizations.

TRACIE provides technical resources and a technical assistance center, a comprehensive national knowledge center, and multiple ways to share information between federal, state and local officials. TRACIE’s technical resources include a living library of audience-tailored and subject matter expert-reviewed topic collections and materials highlighting real-life tools and experiences. TRACIE’s resources include user rating and comments, which can be used to help choose the best resource for a particular need. Through TRACIE’s assistance center, state, tribal, local and territorial officials can reach subject matter experts for technical assistance and consultations on a range of topics. Technical assistance could vary widely, including pediatric preparedness resources, crisis standards of care, tools to assess the readiness of hospitals and health care coalition for emergencies, lessons learned about delivering dialysis care during disasters, and more. Officials also can find training related to preparedness, response and recovery. The assistance center is available through a toll-free number, email, and online.

TRACIE also includes an information exchange. Through this forum, health care emergency preparedness stakeholders can discuss, collaborate and share information about pending and actual health threats and promising practices. Users also can exchange templates, plans and other materials through this feature. Users can get advice, including just-in-time advice, from hundreds of health care, disaster medicine, public health and public safety professionals, through TRACIE. TRACIE’s free registration allows users to rate the usefulness of the resources and to access the information exchange.

Healthy People 2020 Public Comments Open October 15 – November 13

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is soliciting written comments regarding objectives proposed for inclusion in Healthy People 2020 since the last public comment period in fall 2014. Healthy People 2020 will continue to provide opportunities for public input periodically throughout the decade to ensure that Healthy People 2020 reflects current public health priorities. During the first phase of planning for Healthy People 2020, comments were received regarding the vision, mission, and implementation. Those comments helped establish the framework for Healthy People 2020. Comments from the public also helped determine the final set of Healthy People 2020 objectives. During this round of public comment, input is requested on the objectives proposed for the following topic areas: Family Planning, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health, Preparedness, and Social Determinants of Health. The public comment period will be open from October 15, 2015 through November 13, 2015.

These proposed objectives were developed by topic area workgroups, which are led by various agencies within the Federal government. They have been reviewed by the Federal Interagency Workgroup on Healthy People 2020 and are now presented for public review and comment. You are also invited to suggest additional objectives for consideration that address critical public health issues within the 42 existing topic areas of Healthy People 2020. All proposed objectives must meet the objective selection criteria. Please review these criteria prior to reviewing and commenting on objectives.

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.