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Archive for the ‘Non-NLM Resources’ Category

SPARC and Johns Hopkins University Libraries Launch New Resource Analyzing Federal Data Sharing Policies

The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Libraries, has released a new resource for tracking, comparing, and understanding U.S. federal funder research data sharing policies. This freely available tool provides a detailed analysis of 16 federal agency responses to the directive issued by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) on Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Research. Specifically, the new resource focuses on how these agencies intend to make the digital data associated with the projects they fund available for access and reuse.

The SPARC/JHU Libraries resource can be used by researchers, librarians, policy makers, and other stakeholders to explore and compare agency plans. The detailed review, performed by JHU data experts, includes an analysis of the principles, scope, and limitations of agency responses to the OSTP directive, as well as a discussion of any goals and plans the agencies have articulated for future iterations of their policies. The resource contains practical information that can be used by active or prospective grant awardees to easily understand where research data can be shared, how quickly, and what other procedures must be followed to ensure grant compliance. It will be updated as additional federal agency plans are released and analyzed, and as current plans are revised. The entire dataset of policy analyses can be downloaded without restriction from the site.

Healthy People 2030 Advisory Committee Seeks Nominations: Apply by April 18!

The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) is seeking membership nominations for the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Objectives for 2030. They are looking for a diverse group of nationally known experts in fields related to disease prevention and health promotion to help develop the vision, framework, and structure of Healthy People 2030. Nominations must be submitted by April 18. For more information on the nomination process, visit the Federal Register notice.

Applying Cultural Competence to Outreach Evaluation

The American Evaluation Association’s Statement on Cultural Competence in Evaluation describes the importance of cultural competence in terms of ethics, validity of results, and theory.

  • Ethics – quality evaluation has an ethical responsibility to ensure fair, just and equitable treatment of all persons.
  • Validity – evaluation results that are considered valid require trust from the diverse perspectives of the people providing the data and trust that the data will be honestly and fairly represented.
  • Theory – theories underlie all of evaluation, but theories are not created in a cultural vacuum. Assumptions behind theories must be carefully examined to ensure that they apply in the cultural context of the evaluation.

The Statement also makes some recommendations for essential practices for cultural competence, including the following examples:

  • Acknowledge the complexity of cultural identity. Cultural groups are not static, and people belong to multiple cultural groups. Attempts to categorize people often collapse them into cultural groupings that may not accurately represent the true diversity that exists.
  • Recognize the dynamics of power. Cultural privilege can create and perpetuate inequities in power. Work to avoid reinforcing cultural stereotypes and prejudice in evaluation. Evaluators often work with data organized by cultural categories. The choices you make in working with these data can affect prejudice and discrimination attached to such categories.
  • Recognize and eliminate bias in language: Language is often used as the code for a certain treatment of groups. Thoughtful use of language can reduce bias when conducting evaluations.

Two recent entries on the Evergreen Blog on data visualizations and how they can show cultural bias illustrate how these principles can be applied to the evaluation of an outreach project. The first case, How Dataviz Can Unintentionally Perpetuate Inequality: The Bleeding Infestation Example, shows how using red to represent individual participants on a map made the actual participants feel like they were perceived as a threat. The more recent blog post, How Dataviz Can Unintentionally Perpetuate Inequality Part 2, shows how the categories used in a chart on median household income contribute to stereotyping certain cultures and skew the data to show something that does not accurately represent income levels of the different groups.

WHO Launches the Zika App for Health Care Providers

The World Health Organization has created a Zika app that gathers all of WHO’s guidance for agencies and individuals involved in the response to Zika Virus Disease and its suspected complications such as microcephaly, and for health care workers such as doctors, nurses and community health workers. The English version of the app is now available both in Android and iOS versions. It will be soon be available in all United Nations’ official languages and Portuguese!

HCUP Nationwide Databases Now Available for Download!

The Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) is a family of health care databases and related software tools and products developed through a Federal-State-Industry partnership and sponsored by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). These databases enable research on a broad range of health policy issues, including cost and quality of health services, medical practice patterns, access to health care programs, and outcomes of treatments at the national, state, and local market levels.

Beginning Tuesday, March 1, the HCUP Central Distributor will deliver Nationwide Databases via secure digital download. Once an order is complete, data purchasers will be able to access and securely download their zipped and encrypted files through their online HCUP Central Distributor account. These data files are quite large and, depending on connection speed and other variable internet conditions, may take anywhere from 10 minutes to more than an hour to download. Tips to facilitate successful downloads, as well as other updated Purchasing FAQs, are available on the web site. All State Databases will continue to be delivered on DVDs and shipped via FedEx. For questions concerning HCUP database purchases, contact the HCUP Central Distributor.

Thanks to Brooke Billman of the University of Arizona Health Sciences Library in Tucson for forwarding this information.

NIH Content Syndication in Action!

Screencapture of the NIH News in Health diabetes content displayed on the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library website.Over the last few months, we have announced the new content syndication feature for both NIHSeniorHealth and NIH News in Health. The HHS Syndication Storefront allows you to syndicate (import) content from many HHS websites directly into your own website or application, free of charge. Digital Gov’s recent article, Does Content Syndication Work?, provides some examples of NIH News in Health’s content syndication in action on a public library and a resource center’s website! Using HHS web content saves you time and money; you don’t need to write your own health content or worry about updating web pages. Browse and choose from topics in the catalog and then simply add the related code to your web page. The end result: HHS content will populate on your web page with your website’s existing look and feel!

To learn more about implementing this feature on your website, visit Free Web Content from NIH and the HHS Syndication Storefront.

Developing Good Data Design Habits

You have surely noticed poorly designed data visualization displays with too many details, unnecessary icons, and many variables piled into one chart. But you don’t have to be an artist to do good visual displays. Most information designers concur that data visualization is about communication, not art. However, you have to know how to design with a purpose. To understand the basics of good design, you need to understand why humans respond so well to visual displays of data, which is the topic of an excellent blog article by Stephen Few, a thought leader in the data visualization field. First, he advocates that data visualizations aid users in performing three primary functions: exploring, making sense of, and communicating data. Evaluators would add that another goal is to help users apply data in planning and decision-making. To that end, Few argues that data visualizations should be designed to support readers’ ability to perform these four cognitive tasks:

  1. See the big picture in the data
  2. Compare values
  3. See patterns among values
  4. Compare patterns

Design experts like Stephen Few are avowed minimalists, who hate chart junk, such as gridlines and data labels. They have an affinity for small multiples, which are series of graphs displaying different slices of data. If you have never seen small multiples, visit this post from Juice Analytics with good examples. In general, they do not include any element that will hinder users’ ability to make comparisons, find patterns, and identify pattern abnormalities that may be indicators of important events. Decorative features like gas gauges and paper doll icons are viewed as unnecessary distractions.

There is a distinction between data visualizations and infographics. Alberto Cairo, Knight Chair in Visual Journalism at the University of Miami’s School of Communication, wrote that data visualizations are tools for interactive data exploration while infographics are visual displays that make a specific point. One way to think of this is that data visualizations have users, while infographics have readers. Chart art may be more legitimate in infographics because it supports the primary message or story. But Cairo admits that the boundary between infographic and data visualizations is fuzzy. He noted a trend toward infographics with two layers: a presentation layer, and an exploration one. The infographics have an obvious primary message, but readers are also presented with opportunities to explore their own questions.

That said, Cairo still argues that data design principles hold true for both data visualizations and infographics. Don’t drown your readers in images or distract them with bling. Zen is in; bells and whistles are out. The good news is that simple data visualizations do not require sophisticated software or design skills. That’s not to say that simple is the same as easy. Good data visualizations and infographics take a lot of thought. For the more interactive data visualizations, you must identify how your users will use your data and design accordingly. For infographics, you need first to clearly identify your central message and then be sure that every element has a supporting role. To read further about developing good visual design habits, check out Presenting Data Effectively by Stephanie Evergreen (Sage, 2013).

Selected Zika Virus Health Information Resources Compiled by NLM

For decades, the mosquito-transmitted Zika virus was mainly seen in equatorial regions of Africa and Asia, where it caused a mild, flu-like illness and rash in some people. About ten years ago, Zika outbreaks spread to the Pacific islands. Then, last spring, Zika appeared in South America, where it has so far infected more than 1 million Brazilians. A recent study published in The Lancet suggests that Zika virus could eventually reach regions of the United States in which 60% of the population resides. Humid, subtropical parts of the country might support the spread of Zika virus all year round, including southern Texas and Florida. With no vaccine or treatment currently available to prevent or treat Zika infection, the best way for individuals, and pregnant women in particular, to protect themselves is to avoid traveling to places where Zika is known to be present. If an individual has to live or work in such a region, the CDC recommends strict precautions to avoid mosquito bites, including wearing protective clothing, using insect repellants, and sleeping in rooms with window screens or air conditioning.

Following are selections from a list of resources gathered by the National Library of Medicine to assist public health departments, health care providers, librarians, and others seeking authoritative information on the virus and disease. In addition, Zika Virus and Zika Virus Infection are new terms included in NLM’s Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) vocabulary.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

World Health Organization (WHO)

Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), World Health Organization

Resources for Aliso Canyon Natural Gas (Methane) Leak

Several local and state California agencies, as well as federal agencies, are responding to the natural gas leak at the Southern California Gas Company Aliso Canyon Facility that is affecting the Porter Ranch neighborhood in Los Angeles. The National Library of Medicine Disaster Information Management Research Center (NLM Disaster Health) provides information on public health aspects of chemical incidents for the benefit of health professionals and volunteers who may be responding to an incident and for people living in or concerned about an affected region. The primary releases from the well are natural gas (methane) and odorants (tertiary butyl mercaptan and tetrahydrothiophene). The area is also being affected by “oily mist” containing assorted chemicals: benzene, toluene, ethylene, xylene, and other organics consistent with oil residues from the former oil drilling facility site. Air sampling has also noted radon and hydrogen sulfide.

A resource guide with a compilation of links on the gas leak and specific chemicals detected was prepared by NLM staff members Cindy Love, Siobhan Champ-Blackwell, and Stacey Arnesen. Contributions from NN/LM PSR staff were made by Kelli Ham, Lori Tagawa, and Alan Carr. A PDF version of the guide is also available.

NIH unveils FY2016–2020 Strategic Plan

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has just released the NIH-Wide Strategic Plan, Fiscal Years 2016–2020: Turning Discovery Into Health, which will ensure the agency remains well positioned to capitalize on new opportunities for scientific exploration and address new challenges for human health. Developed after hearing from hundreds of stakeholders and scientific advisers, and in collaboration with leadership and staff of NIH’s Institutes, Centers, and Offices (ICOs), the plan is designed to complement the ICOs’ individual strategic plans that are aligned with their congressionally mandated missions.

The plan focuses on four essential, interdependent objectives that will help guide NIH’s priorities over the next five years as it pursues its mission of seeking fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and applying that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability. The objectives are to:

  1. advance opportunities in biomedical research in fundamental science, treatment and cures, and health promotion and disease prevention;
  2. foster innovation by setting NIH priorities to enhance nimbleness, consider burden of disease and value of permanently eradicating a disease, and advance research opportunities presented by rare diseases;
  3. enhance scientific stewardship by recruiting and retaining an outstanding biomedical research workforce, enhancing workforce diversity and impact through partnerships, ensuring rigor and reproducibility, optimizing approaches to inform funding decisions, encouraging innovation, and engaging in proactive risk management practices; and
  4. excel as a federal science agency by managing for results by developing the “science of science,” balancing outputs with outcomes, conducting workforce analyses, continually reviewing peer review, evaluating steps to enhance rigor and reproducibility, reducing administrative burden, and tracking effectiveness of risk management in decision making.

To inform development of the strategic plan, NIH solicited input from a wide range of stakeholders through a Request for Information, which generated more than 450 responses; a series of interactive webinars, which attracted more than 750 participants; and meetings with 21 NIH advisory councils, including the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director. The plan concludes with a bold vision for NIH, listing some specific achievements and advances that the agency will strive to deliver over the next five years.