I attended a seminar hosted by the Evidence Synthesis Network at Manchester University called ‘Novel Approaches to Literature Searching’
The seminar had 3 main speakers (whom were all excellent). The first was Paul Levay from NICE who discussed ‘Practical Issues Identifying Evidence for Complex Problems’. Second up was Andrew Booth, discussing ‘Going Beyond Database Lists’ (both these presentations had similar intertwining themes) and post break was Professor Sophia Ananiadou discussing the text-mining work she does at how it can support evidence-based practice. I also got to network a little! The general theme was the importance of searching pragmatically AND systematically or as I would define it: ‘search smart not hard’.
So What? Conclusions
The main conclusion I have taken away from this event was that my current approach to literature searching is, if not perfect – on the right tracks. This is due to the public health and latterly social care nature of the searches I do, and the fact that many of the traditional sources we use are set up for clinical inquiry with many other type of information fitted into this. There are two broad components to literature searching: 1) search the right resources for the question (rather than all of them) 2) searching for the right information for the user (rather than all of it/what they think they want/what you think they want!). obviously these are complex issues in themselves, which change dependant on the search and user. The focus should be on inclusion not exclusion. Within the seminar there was several handy hints, and I know less experienced searchers (researchers?) within the room found the entire session very interesting.
Now What? Actions
Moving forward, my actions to take from this event are to implement some of the new ideas/techniques I have come across:
- Producing a more defined set of search obligitaions and a narrative structure to the search. These will have two functions – firstly they will complement what I have found with a description of why and perhaps how I found, which will give the user an understanding of the search processes. It will also allow me to reflect on the search and my approach to it whilst undertaking the search. This will improve my search skills.
- The BeHEMoth model to approaching searches of theroretical models will improve the quality of my searching in this area by adding a structured approach to a search-type that can seem haphazard and pot-luck!
- I will investigate the text-mining resources demonstrated as again if these are as useful as they seem will improve the quality of searching by streamlining evidence to only what is right for the user
These will allow me to present a more holistic, complete set of results, to the end user, which will also be of higher quality which will result in improved patient care and service provision.
When & Where?
Manchester University, 13th December 2012