Skip all navigation and go to page content
NN/LM Home About NTO | Contact NTO | NTO Feedback | Help | Bookmark and Share

NLM Webinar. Insider’s Guide to Accessing NLM Data: Welcome to E-utilities for PubMed

Want to do more with PubMed?
Want to extract just the PubMed data you need, in the format you want?
Dreaming of creating your own PubMed tool or interface, but don’t know where to start?

Join NLM on Tuesday, May 2nd at 1pm EDT for a one-hour introductory webinar designed to teach you more powerful and flexible ways of accessing NLM data, starting with the Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) for PubMed and other NCBI databases. This presentation is part of the Insider’s Guide, a series aimed at librarians and other information specialists who have experience using PubMed via the traditional Web interface, but now want to dig deeper.

Gummy Bears in a semicircle

Date and time: Tuesday, May 2, 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm EDT

To register or for more information:
Questions? Contact NLM at

What’s an API?

This class will start with the very basics of APIs, before showing you how to get started using the E-utilities API to search and retrieve records from PubMed.

Show Me the Tools

The class will also showcase some specific tools and utilities that information specialists can use to work with E-utilities, helping to prepare you for subsequent Insider’s Guide classes.

The Real World

We will finish by looking at some practical examples of E-utilities in the real world, and hopefully inspire you to get out and put these lessons to use!

Date and time: Tuesday, May 2, 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm EDT
To register or for more information:
Questions? Contact NLM at

Is the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy relevant to hospital librarians?

Librarians who work in hospitals have many daily tasks and meager time to spare on activities unrelated to their primary role (which I will loosely define as “supporting health care professionals” for the purposes of this post). Should hospital librarians care about the ACRL Framework?

Consider these three questions:
1. Does your hospital support nursing or allied health programs or accreditation?

ACRL stands for Association of College and Research Libraries. If you answered yes, the Framework might be relevant because it is a standard that can be applied to course development for undergraduate allied health & nursing programs. In fact, nursing accreditation standards for information literacy already exist – & are now superseded by the Framework.  Some nursing librarians recently published a Framework-based rubric for assessing undergraduate nursing research papers for information literacy skills.

2. Do you provide “bibliographic instruction” at your hospital library? 

Information Literacy is “a set of abilities requiring individuals to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information.”  If you answered yes to bibliographic instruction, the Framework might be relevant because it conceptualizes qualities of an “information literate” individual and engages higher level thinking, moving beyond the ‘how’ to find information to asking ‘why’ the information is important & according to whom.

3. Do you have time to read?  If yes – two recommendations: 1) a book review by hospital librarian Eleanor Shanklin Truex in the October 2016 Journal of the Medical Library Association which evaluates the book The New Information Literacy Instruction: Best Practices – the book review is available for free to read via open access. If that tickles your fancy, also check out 2) Chapter 9 “Information and Scientific Literacy Support,”  which discusses course and program level support of scientific literacy. The chapter is currently available to preview on Amazon. 

Should hospital librarians care about the ACRL Framework? My gut answer is no, but every [hospital] library is different. If you are primarily in service to doctors, residents, patients, and hospital admin, you can probably skip it. If you have any connection with undergraduate students, it’s worth knowing.

Our webinar on the Framework is Wednesday, April 26. If you can’t make it we’ll send you a recording. 

EDIT 4/17/2016 – Registration for the Framework webinar is closed due to overwhelming popularity. A recording will be available on our website after the broadcast.  

Test Making

I recently listened to an interesting interview at of a psychometrician, Michael Rodriguez, PhD., from the University of Minnesota Department of Educational Psychology. I have the podcast linked below (~45 minutes), but I'll cover some tips that might useful the next time you are developing a test or a quiz.

What’s a Psychometrician?

This is not knowledge I was born with so I looked it up on the Internet. According to Merriam Webster, a psychometrician is a person (a clinical psychologist) who is skilled in the administration and interpretation of objective psychological tests.

Tests are an Opportunity

Tests give instructors a window into what learners know, but tests also inform the structure of your class content. What does that mean? If you plan on asking a lot of questions about a specific topic, then an appropriate amount of time should be spent on that content in class. Conversely, if you spend a lot of time on a topic, students will most likely receive the message (implied or explicit) that this information is important and will probably be covered in-depth on the test.

Develop Test Items while Developing Content

Whether you’re developing a one-hour webinar or a semester-long class, you will most likely ask yourself what knowledge, skills and abilities you want students to obtain from the class. After developing each section of a class, Dr. Rodriguez suggests that you stop and think about the test questions that will measure what you plan on teaching. Bottom line…don’t wait until you are all done developing content to write test questions.

Test Item Guidelines

Test items are the type of questions you use; multiple choice, True or False, fill-in-the blank, etc. Here are some tips from Dr. Rodriguez.

  • Avoid negative phrases and terminology. Ex. Which PubMed author search will NOT find all citations by author so and so? Dr. Rodriguez said that this type of question is often misunderstood by the student and hence leads to an incorrect answer, but not because the student didn’t understand the content.
  • Try to stick with 3 choices in a multiple choice question. Using more than 3 choices may lead to the student using a process of elimination when choosing an answer. While this is a good test-taking strategy, it may not actually measure knowledge gained.
  • Try using a multiple choice True/False question. This type of question requires students to defend why each choice is or isn’t the correct answer. A is false because, B is true because, etc.
  • True/False questions are good for clear, declarative statements or scenarios.
  • Dr. Rodriguez suggests that you write both a True version and a False version of a question and pick one for the test.
  • Test higher order thinking by creating a scenario where students have to generalize what they learned to a new or novel situation.
  • Use multiple choice questions and require students to explain the reason they did and didn’t choose a specific response.
  • Alternate Choice Multiple Choice: only provide 2 options and ask which is correct, this or that?
  • Matching. I love matching, but Dr. Rodriguez gave some guidelines. One list should be longer than the other so students can’t just use a process of elimination. Consider using the same response for more than one question, include some erroneous answer choices so students have to analyze the possibilities.

Test Blueprint

Dr. Rodriguez suggests you make a list of topics that need to be covered on the test. These will match your learning objectives. Then, align the importance of the topic with the number of test questions about that topic. If you spend little time on a topic, students will most likely get the message that this isn’t a section of huge importance, only to learn later that there are several questions about the topic on the test.

Click here to listen to the whole podcast or use the player below (player many not work in all browsers).

How to Write Tests

What are the educational needs of NNLM users? Results of our national training needs assessment

Image: dot plot art

Image: dot plot art

Back in December 2016 we conducted a training needs assessment. You may remember it making the rounds on one of our regional email lists, or for it’s length (50+ questions) and attention to detail (covered 15+ professional competencies and 100+ NLM products). We are pleased to announce the results of our needs assessment. Full report here, and highlights after the jump.

PS: the NEO (National Evaluation Office) did a great post on how to create Dot Plots, a method for visualizing data which we used in our analysis.

Read more »

How to get weekly email notifications of new NNLM classes

Librarians love email distribution lists, that is for certain, but they love email lists about FREE STUFF even more. Here’s how to sign up for weekly email notifications about new NNLM classes on our website.