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SEA Currents

Newsletter of the NN/LM Southeastern/Atlantic Region

Grey Literature, the deep end revisited.

By: PJ Grier, Outreach/Access Coordinator, National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Southeastern/Atlantic Region
Contact PJ at: pgrier@hshsl.umaryland.edu

Online or printed works that are of scholarly or research value and not formally distributed by commercial publishers fall into the category of grey literature. These materials are considered “grey” because they are not readily discoverable via databases or other acceptable indexing mechanisms. They are also considered grey because a peer review process has not vetted their credibility and therefore the content must be thoughtfully evaluated.

Why is grey literature important? It is especially important in the area of health policy where assessments, economic evaluations, and comparative effectiveness research are of special interest. Grey literature is vital for developing a more complete view of research on a particular topic and can be a good source for data, statistics and for very recent research results1. Because there are no publisher enforced limitations these materials can be more detailed than the journal literature. Furthermore, they can help to offset issues related to publication bias1.

The Twelfth International Conference on Grey Literature in 2010 arrived at this definition:

Grey literature stands for manifold document types produced on all levels of government, academics, business and industry in print and electronic formats that are protected by intellectual property rights, of sufficient quality to be collected and preserved by libraries and institutional repositories, but not controlled by commercial publishers; i.e. where publishing is not the primary activity of the producing body.

Grey literature includes works that are not generally available for purchase, may be difficult to locate, have erratic availability but its content may include significant research information. While not exhaustive, grey literature may include reports, datasets, dissertations, newsletters, blogs, wikis, white papers, bulletins, social media, electronic listservs, informal communications and institutional repositories, such as the UMB digital archive.

Institutions often collect grey literature produced by their employees including researchers, scientists and policy analysts. The following denote some aggregated academic and health repositories worldwide. The OpenDOAR is a directory of academic repositories, the Virtual Health Library is a worldwide compendium of country and organizational health repositories and the Registry of Open Access Repositories, which is a subsidiary of EPrints, aims to promote the development of open access.

An assortment of grey literature resources useful to health sciences information professionals include: (a) MedlinePlus: contains a collection of organizations providing health information arranged by topic, (b) F1000 Posters: is an open access repository providing a permanent environment for the deposition of posters and slide presentations, (c) AHRQ: contains information on finding grey literature evidence, (d) The Grey Literature Report: is a service of the New York Academy of Medicine, (e) National Technical Information Service: is the largest resource for government-funded scientific, technical, engineering, and business related information, (f) WHO: contains World Health Organization publications, (g) Grey Net International: facilitates dialog in the field of grey literature and (h) Science.gov searches over 60 databases and 2200 websites from federal agencies and includes research and development results. Also, performing a search on the topic at the LibGuides Community website will yield rich results from academic libraries hosting all types of information on grey literature.

How does someone objectively evaluate grey literature? It is similar to how one would evaluate any resource. Consider the author’s or organization’s authority, the source of the material, the clarity of methodology used in the analysis or research and of course the material’s timeliness.

Following are tools for evaluation of grey literature. The AACODS Checklist by Jess Tyndal of Flinders University is designed to evaluate and critically appraise grey literature and its sources. Another tool that is available from the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health is the CADTH Peer Review Checklist for Search Strategies, which can assist with assessment of database search strategies. AcademyHealth has an excellent archived grey literature three-part webinar series that can be watched at your convenience. For social media addicts, while it is not a good idea to cite Facebook or Twitter as evidence these tools may help alert you to up-to-the-minute issues germane to your research topic.

The MLA Clearinghouse offers a 4HR class on grey literature, entitled Grey Lit – Google for it and more and the instructor is happy to teach the in-person class in our region. Last month, the class was promoted to the Chairs of health sciences library associations throughout SE/A. If you are interested in attending, please contact the leadership at your local health sciences library association. It is also an educational opportunity for state library associations to embrace while planning their annual conference events to satisfy the interests of public librarians.

By thoughtful exploration, you will discover that grey literature is not a muddy swamp. Armed with the correct tools for constructing searches and evaluation of results, you will realize the area is full of opportunity in shaping a “balanced” view on a topic.

Reference:

  1. Penn Libraries. Health and life sciences guides: Grey literature in the health sciences. Accessed September 19, 2014.

Disaster Information Specialists Program monthly conference call/webinar – October 9, 2014

WHEN:  Thursday, October 9, 2014 at 1:30 PM ET

WHO CAN PARTICIPATE:  The Disaster Information Specialist monthly meeting is open to everyone – please spread the word and invite others in your organizations, send to your email lists, and post to your social media accounts.

TOPIC:    Ebola Outbreak: Managing Health Information Resources

The 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak has resulted in an explosion of information on many aspects of managing the disease from a clinical and public health perspective. There is also considerable interest in related topics such as legalities of quarantine; ethics of vaccine development; shaming and isolation of Ebola survivors, family members of the deceased and Ebola orphans; food security; and the effects on healthcare for other medical conditions in areas with extremely limited resources. How does one make sense of the outpouring of information from news media, social media, publications and guidelines from international agencies, national governments, NGOs, and professional associations; situation reports; maps and other tools for visualizing the outbreak? What about health messaging materials like infographics, radio jingles, banners, TV interviews, and webinars? Join us to discuss the nature of information flow during an infectious disease outbreak, with a special focus on Ebola-related resources from the National Library of Medicine.

Presenter:  Cindy Love is a medical librarian with over 20 years’ experience in public health information management at the National Library of Medicine. As part of the NLM Disaster Information Management Research Center, Cindy has developed information resources for every major U.S. and international disaster in the last 5 years. She first co-authored a bibliography on “Viral Hemorrhagic Fever” in 1996. It ranks #8,569,688 on Amazon’s list of bestselling books.

LOGIN:   To join the meeting at 1:30 pm ET, Thursday, October 9, click on https://webmeeting.nih.gov/disinfo

Enter your name in the guest box and click “Enter Room”.

A box should pop up asking for your phone number.

Enter your phone number and the system will call you.

For those who cannot use this call-back feature, the dial-in information is:

Dial-In:  1-888-757-2790

Pass-Code: 745907

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If you have never attended an Adobe Connect Pro meeting before:

Test your connection: https://webmeeting.nih.gov/common/help/en/support/meeting_test.htm

Get a quick overview: http://www.adobe.com/go/connectpro_overview

Adobe, the Adobe logo, Acrobat and Acrobat Connect are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated in the United States and/or other countries.

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Or, if you are in the area you can attend the meeting in person at our offices at 6707 Democracy Blvd, Bethesda, MD, Suite 440. Park in the visitor’s parking lot (we will validate your parking), walk to the middle building (Democracy Two) and take the elevator to the 4th floor. Suite 440 is around the corner behind the elevators.

MORE INFORMATION:  For more information on this and past meetings, see http://disasterinfo.nlm.nih.gov/dimrc/dismeetings.html

Send in Your Application to Participate in “A Librarian’s Guide to NCBI” Bioinformatics Course

Zipser J. Send in Your Application to Participate in “A Librarian’s Guide to NCBI” Bioinformatics Course. NLM Tech Bull. 2014 Sep-Oct;(400):e10.

2014 September 29

Health science librarians in the United States are invited to participate in the next offering of the bioinformatics training course, “A Librarian’s Guide to NCBI,” sponsored by the National Library of Medicine (NLM), the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), and the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, NLM Training Center (NTC).

The course provides knowledge and skills for librarians interested in helping patrons use online molecular databases and tools from the NCBI. Prior knowledge of molecular biology and genetics is not required. Participating in the Librarian’s Guide course will improve your ability to initiate or extend bioinformatics services at your institution.

Instructors will be NCBI staff and Diane Rein, Ph.D., MLS, Bioinformatics and Molecular Biology Liaison from the Health Science Library, University at Buffalo.

Online Pre-Course and In-Person Course Components
There are two parts to “A Librarian’s Guide to NCBI,” listed below. Applicants must complete both parts. Participants must complete the pre-course with full CE credit (Part 1) in order to advance to attend the 5-day in-person course (Part 2).

  • Part 1: “Fundamentals in Bioinformatics and Searching,” an online (asynchronous) course,
    January 12-February 13, 2015

The major goal of this part is to provide an introduction to bioinformatics theory and practice in support of developing and implementing library-based bioinformatics products and services. This material is essential for decision-making and implementation of these programs, particularly instructional and reference services. The course encompasses visualizing bioinformatics end-user practice. It places a strong emphasis on hands-on acquisition of NCBI search competencies, and developing a working molecular biology vocabulary through self-paced hands-on exercises.

  • Part 2: A 5-day in-person course offered on-site at the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland, March 9-13, 2015.

The in-person course will focus on using the BLAST sequence similarity search and Entrez text search systems to find relevant molecular data. The course will describe the various kinds of molecular data available and explain how these are generated and used in modern biomedical research. The course will be a combination of instruction, demonstration, discussions, and hands-one exercises (both individual and group).

Who can apply?

  • Applications are open to health science librarians in the United States.
  • Applicants will be accepted both from libraries currently providing bioinformatics services as well as from those desiring to implement services.
  • Enrollment is limited 25 participants.

What does it cost?

  • There is no charge for the classes. Travel and lodging costs for the in-person class are at the expense of the participant.

Important Application Dates

  • Application deadline: November 17, 2014
  • Acceptance notification: On or about December 15, 2014

How to Apply

  1. Please fill out the Application Form at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/guide_2015_app.
  2. Once you complete the Application Form, you will be directed to download the Supervisor Support Statement (ftp://ftp.ncbi.nih.gov/pub/education/librarian_guide/Forms/Supervisor_Supportv2.pdf). This is to be filled out and signed by your immediate supervisor. This statement describes your current and/or future role in bioinformatics support at your institution and confirms your availability to attend the course if selected.
  3. Provide your current curriculum vitae (CV). Please use the suggested CV model as a guideline for the type of information desired (ftp://ftp.ncbi.nih.gov/pub/education/librarian_guide/Forms/LibGuide_CV_model.pdf).

Course Page
The course page with additional information is at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/education/librarian/

Questions?
Please direct any questions to: ncbi_course@lists.utah.edu

By Janet Zipser
MEDLARS Management Section

National Library of Medicine Environmental Health Student Resources

The National Library of Medicine has several online environmental health student resources that serve students from grades 1-12.  The information and data in these resources are free and vetted by science professionals.  The resources are versatile and can be used by science educators in their classrooms, in afterschool programs, in home school programs and by students for their academic research assignments.  We encourage you to use these resources and recommend them to interested groups.

NLM Environmental Health Student Resources:

  • ToxMystery (Grades 1-5): Interactive Web site that teaches elementary school students about toxic substances in the home.  Includes lesson plans and activities.  Also available in Spanish.
  • Environmental Health Student Portal (Grades 6-8): Provides middle school students and educators with information on common environmental health topics such as water pollution, climate change, air pollution, and chemicals.
  • Household Products Database (Grades 6-12+): Learn about the potential health effects of chemicals in common household products ranging from personal hygiene products to landscape care products.
  • ToxTown (Grades 6-12+): Interactive guide to commonly encountered toxic substances.  Includes classroom materials.  Also available in Spanish.
  • Native Voices Exhibition Lesson Plans & Activities (Grades 6-12): The lesson plans and activities familiarize students with Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian healthcare by using the NLM Native Voices exhibition Web site content materials.
  • TOXMAP (Grades 9-12+): Uses maps of the United States to visually explore Superfund and Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) sites and data from the EPA.  Includes classroom materials.
  • Toxicology Tutorials (Grades 9-12+): Written at the introductory college student level; tutorials teach basic toxicology principles.

 

 

Share Your Success: Outreach Services and Support throughout South Carolina

cdrBy: Steven P Wilson, MLIS, AHIP, MA, Web Architect and Outreach Librarian, School of Medicine Library at University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, steve.wilson@uscmed.sc.edu

As Coordinator of the USC Center for Disability Resources Library, I feel proud to share the many small but significant successes that we have achieved over the past decade. The collection, which is comprised of nearly 5,300 books, videos, DVDs, and brochures focusing on disabilities in general, and especially developmental disabilities, is now being borrowed by families of those with special needs and the professionals that work with them, nationwide.
When I began working as the coordinator for the collection, we lent our items out to just South Carolina residents, mailing the books and videos to the patrons’ homes and offices with postage-paid mailers included, so that even those in far off parts of the state would be able to take advantage of the collection, and without having to make the drive to Columbia. This service, which is completely free and largely paid for by grant monies and collaborative efforts by such organizations as the Center for Disability Resources, BabyNet/First Steps to School Readiness, the South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs, and the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Library, has now lent out thousands of titles and responded to tens of thousands of information requests, to residents of South Carolina, many of whom lack adequate access to up-to-date disability and consumer health resources via their local public libraries plagued by insufficient budgets. Of course the same can often be said of similar patrons from other states who gradually began finding our web presence online and appealing to us to grant them access, as well. With approval from the CDR’s director, about seven years ago we began lending items out to those individuals as well, and I am especially proud of the fact that anyone in any of the fifty states may now take advantage of both our collection and our reference services, whether focused on developmental disabilities or consumer health topics.

Every month, in addition to the approximately 150 South Carolinians that directly benefit from our library, dozens of others outside of South Carolina do as well. For me this represents a wonderful break from the mold of primarily focusing on a single population’s needs, or of narrowly defining our library’s worth relative to just geographical location and regional influence. To be able to lend the collection to anyone, at any time–especially to able to let those selfsame folks know that they can even use us for their consumer health and disability resource needs from extremely up-to-date online resources that they might not be familiar with or have access to, such as MedlinePlus or the many excellent e-resources the USC School of Medicine subscribes to–is such an honor. It makes me really appreciate the “form” of librarianship, and the ideals that we as library students were taught to uphold back in school, learning about service, about finding ways to increase access to quality information for patrons, and to evaluating and championing the best in information in order to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, for the users that come to us looking for such.

I keep a bulletin board on my wall, chocked full of cards and letters from my patrons, thanking us for providing a much needed information service that they wouldn’t have access to in their own regions. And I am thrilled to see an ever-growing number of post cards and letters and Thank You cards coming from outside my own state of South Carolina. This one small collection represents for me what librarianship is all about. Every new item I affix to my bulletin board with a pushpin feels like a small but significant success, each and every time.

Last updated on Friday, 22 November, 2013

Funded by the National Library of Medicine under contract HHS-N-276-2011-00004-C with the Health Sciences and Human Services Library of the University of Maryland