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Upcoming NCBI Webinars: PubMed for Scientists, The New ClinVar Submission Wizard, Finding Genes in PubMed

Join NCBI staff for the upcoming webinars on PubMed and ClinVar:

PubMed for Scientists
Thu, Nov 12, 2015 9:30 AM – 10:30 AM PST
Search the biomedical literature more efficiently with PubMed. In this Webinar designed for scientists you will learn to search by author; explore a subject; use filters to narrow your search; find the full text article; and set up an e-mail alert for new research on your topic. Bring your questions about searching PubMed.

NCBI Minute: The New ClinVar Submission Wizard
Wed, Nov 18, 2015 9:00 AM – 9:30 AM PST
ClinVar is the NCBI archive of submitted interpretations of variants relative to diseases and other phenotypes. Submission to ClinVar has been through the Variation Submission Portal, which is useful for groups who frequently submit large number of variants but may not be convenient for infrequent submitters of small numbers of variants. This webinar will introduce and demonstrate the new ClinVar Submission Wizard, a guided interface for direct data entry, targeted to research laboratories that infrequently want to submit a small number of records. The Submission Wizard is designed to support all types of submissions to ClinVar, including structural variants, pharmacogenomics variants, somatic variants, as well as interpretations based on functional rather than clinical significance.

NCBI Minute: Finding Genes in PubMed
Wed, Dec 2, 2015 9:00 AM – 9:15 AM PST
Learn to quickly find literature about a gene of interest using PubMed. Take advantage of the links between gene data and literature, and leverage the vocabulary used to describe gene information in PubMed to build a better search.

Visit the NCBI Webinars and Courses webpage to view archived webinars and materials, and to learn about future webinars. Archived webinars can also be accessed on the NCBI YouTube channel.

Structured Abstracts in MEDLINE: Newly Identified and Mapped Labels Available

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) has updated its list of structured abstract labels. This updated list, along with the NLM-assigned broader category mappings, can be downloaded for free from the Structured Abstracts resource page which also provides NLM guidelines and other background information to assist licensees or researchers. A grand total of 4,702 citations (whether in process, MEDLINE, or PubMed-not-MEDLINE status) were revised so that the new labels include the NLM Category mapping in the XML data, effective on or about October 26, 2015. Of interest, the new label ‘TWEETABLE ABSTRACT’ (mapped to the NLM Category ‘CONCLUSIONS’) illustrates the impact of social media. Read more about Structured Abstracts in MEDLINE/PubMed.

Dietary Supplement Label Database (DSLD) Feedback Requested

The Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) at the National Institutes of Health, in partnership with the National Library of Medicine, is inviting public comment on the Dietary Supplement Label Database (DSLD). Launched in June 2013, DSLD now provides all the information from the labels of 50,000 dietary supplement products marketed in the United States. ODS is particularly interested in comments about features to add and functionality improvements that would make the DSLD a more useful tool to users. A federal stakeholder panel for the DSLD will consider all comments received. ODS welcomes input from academic researchers, government agencies, the dietary supplement industry, and other interested parties, including consumers.

ODS would like would like to receive ideas and suggestions for how the DSLD might evolve. What features might be added, improved, or enhanced—for example, in capabilities related to search, sorting, organization, and downloading of information that would make it a more valuable tool for users? All comments should be sent to, and must be received by 11:59 p.m. eastern time, November 27, 2015. The full announcement is available in the Federal Register notice: Notice of Opportunity for Public Comment on the Dietary Supplement Label Database.

NIH Observes National Native American Heritage Month in November

November is National Native American Heritage Month (NNAHM), a time to recognize the accomplishments of this country’s first inhabitants. As the early inhabitants of this land, the native peoples of North America have their own tribal orientations, language origins, and cultural histories. Today, many healing techniques that are practiced have been adopted from traditions that originate from various Native American tribes. This year’s NNAHM theme, Tribal Diversity: Weaving Together Our Traditions, highlights spirituality as an inseparable element of healing in medicine. Healing the physical parts of a patient is not enough; one must acknowledge the importance of emotional wellness, as influenced by Native American rituals and traditions.

This month is dedicated to building new avenues of opportunity for Native Americans by making critical investments to improve health, to strengthen tribal communities, and to promote educational opportunities at the NIH. Maintaining an inclusive biomedical research workforce with a diversity of talent is critical to the NIH mission of fostering new discoveries and promoting the highest level of scientific integrity to improve the nation’s health. NNAHM allows the opportunity for every individual to learn more about the distinctive backgrounds and heritages of Native Americans. You can show support during National Native American Heritage Month by actively engaging with the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion’s (EDI’s) social media campaign, including the month-long NIH Twitter campaign. More information is located on the Strategist for the Native American Portfolio website.

New NLM Traveling Exhibition Now Available for Booking!

The Exhibition Program at the National Library of Medicine has announced booking availability for its newest traveling exhibition, For All the People: A Century of Citizen Action in Health Care Reform. When requesting booking, please provide 3 to 4 booking dates which are of interest. NLM will make every effort to find the best fit for your institution on the exhibition itinerary. The online exhibition incorporates education resources, including a K-12 lesson plan that investigates the exhibition content; a higher education module; an online activity, and a robust selection of resources including K-12 suggested readings. In addition, the Web feature, “Related Resources at NLM,” includes a selection of published articles on health care access, policy, and disparities, available through PubMed Central, which provides free access to over 3.1 million full-text biomedical and life science journal articles.

Health care reform has been a contentious political issue in the United States for more than one hundred years. From the beginning of the 20th century to today, citizens have made their voices heard in the debates. For All the People tells the lesser-known story of how movements of ordinary people helped shape the changing American health care system. The six-banner traveling exhibition highlights images from over one hundred years of citizen action for health care reform.

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!

The Medical Library Assistance Act Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary!

A recent post in the National Library of Medicine’s Circulating Now blog highlights the fifty years since the Medical Library Assistance Act was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in October, 1965, establishing the Regional Medical Library Program, now known as the National Network of Libraries of Medicine. The first RML to be selected was the Countway Library of Medicine at Harvard Medical School; the second, the library of the New York Academy of Medicine; and the third, the library of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. In all, eleven RMLs were initially established. The number of regions was later reduced to seven due to federal budget cuts, and then expanded to its current configuration of eight regions.

NLM Recruiting for 2016-17 Associate Fellowship Program!

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) is accepting applications for its 2016-17 Associate Fellowship program, a one-year training program designed for recent library science graduates and early-career librarians. All U.S. and Canadian citizens who will have earned a MLS or equivalent degree in library/information science from an ALA-accredited school by August 2016 are eligible to apply. Priority is given to U.S. citizens. Applications and additional information are available on the NLM web site. The application deadline is February 12, 2016. Up to five candidates will be selected for the program.

The program is a one-year residency program (with an optional second year) for recent library science graduates interested in a career in health sciences librarianship. The program combines curriculum and project work and is located at the National Library of Medicine on the campus of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

The Associate Fellowship provides knowledge and skills in project work ranging from:

  • Data analysis of programs and services such as extramural grants, indexed journal articles, controlled vocabularies, datasets, and customer inquiries.
  • Creation of online tutorials and educational awareness videos.
  • Social media outreach.
  • And more, including legislative tracking, web site enhancement, disaster information outreach studies, and review of next generation discovery interfaces.

The Associate Fellowship financial support includes:

  • Annual stipend of $52,668.
  • Additional funding to support purchase of group health insurance.
  • Up to $1,500 in relocation support.
  • Funding to support attendance at local and national conferences.

MeSH Browser Now Includes Link to 2016 MeSH

The default year in NLM’s MeSH Browser is currently 2015 MeSH, with an alternate link that now provides access to 2016 MeSH. Access to two years of MeSH vocabulary is always available in the MeSH Browser, the current year and an alternate year. Sometime in November or December, the default year will change to 2016 MeSH and the alternate link to the 2015 MeSH. Details on updates and download information for 2016 MeSH are forthcoming.

Applications Now Being Accepted for the Fourth CDC E-Learning Institute Fellowship

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in partnership with the Public Health Foundation (PHF), invites distance learning professionals who are responsible for developing online training products to apply to participate in the E-Learning Institute (ELI) Fellowship. The ELI Fellowship empowers education and training professionals from state and local health departments and public health organizations with the knowledge, skills, tools, and resources to create quality e-learning products. Applications will be accepted through November 13, and selected applicants will be notified by December 14. Space is limited.

This program will be conducted from February 8 to June 10, 2016. Participants will need to allocate approximately two hours per week during working hours for program activities. Participants may need to commit more time to complete the final project. Participants will also travel twice to Atlanta, GA, for the orientation and final showcase event. Fellows participate at no cost. Professionals from state, local, territorial, tribal, and international health departments responsible for developing online training products should apply. University and hospital learning professionals who are involved in public health are also encouraged to apply.