Learning Log 78 – Advanced Searching Training

Date: 21/11/17

Number: 78

Significant Experience: I attended a 2 day training event on Advanced Searching techniques ran by 2 search experts – Julie Glanville and Carol Lefebvre

What Happened?: It was a 2 day course, looking at different techniques to improve how we search. It was a really intensive couple of days, covering a lot of ground including: resources to support searching; citation, text mining and text analysis tools; identification of search terms to build search strategies and much more! Whilst these may be obvious to many particular points that jumped out to me were:

  • Floating Sub-headings!
  • Collaborative search filter resource (ISSG)
  • Text analysis tools Voyant & Vosviewer
  • Pubreminer for those tricky to find search terms and more systematic approaches to identifying search terms
  • Frequency analysis in Endnote
  • Helioblast and implicit key words

So What?:  This was a really useful training event, both from a technical and a psychological perspective.

Of course, I have learnt lots of new techniques, picked up new hints and approaches and got to bounce ideas off two experts within the field. But it was also good to find out that, there was not a world of difference between my skill level, and those of our team that are (quite rightly) viewed as the leaders in terms of search – and that I had a similar approach to public health searching. Given how the importance of searching (and the resources available) had been diminished in my previous role, it gave me confidence not only in my abilities but also of our team as a whole.

It was also interesting to find that my perspectives (developed in isolation) on the difference between searching for public health and clinical searching were already established. Concepts that I discussed when training (anyone who has been trained by me will remember the ‘Hansel and Gretal’ approach and ‘sideways searching’ ) were discussed.

This session has not only improved my technical searching skills and showed me new ways to both produce and present searches but given me confidence in my skills and thoughts about how to share them with people supporting public health across the North of England.

Now What?: I am going to start using these tips and techniques to my regular searching. This will improve the effectiveness of my offer which will support the organisation to reach its strategic goals. I am also going to investigate interest in holding a session for librarians in clinical organisations that offer services to public health/primary care services to develop their skills as I believe I can help my fellow information professionals deliver a high quality service

When & Where?: 1/2nd November, London


Belbin Team Role Feedback: Is it Me You’re Looking For?

Next week, we (PHIT) as a mini-team are undertaking some training. Part of our pre-training homework was to undertake & share a Belbin Questionnaire This is an extract from my report – the Team Role Feedback. I have been sceptical of things like this, but on the whole it does seem to nail me pretty good.  The whole report is a lot more positive than I would expect, and there our a couple of things I would disagree with but I think the most negative view someone has of you is often the one in your head (sociopaths aside) and the people closest to you often have the most honest perception of you as an individually – either personally or professionally. A funny thing to note was that the 2 people I asked to do this whom I managed (Mike & Amy) had almost completely opposite perceptions of me. maybe I managed them differently?

Team Role Feedback (Based upon Self Perception and 6 Feedback from Others)

You seem to gain intrinsic satisfaction from the nature of the work in which you are engaged.

For you, work is like a hobby, offering you a chance to exercise your creative disposition and to utilise your expertise simultaneously. As far as the outside world is concerned, you will be known and respected for your knowledge and special skills and for the fact that you are at the forefront of most new developments.

You are likely to feel least comfortable when work falls outside your area of professional competence and expertise, so build up your personal reputation in your own special area and carve out your own job within it.

Whatever your chosen career path, you will achieve most success if you can secure the respect of those who work in different subject areas. Others will need to know how you are progressing and what you have to offer. If you are to make your mark, ensure that you do not overwhelm people with science or flood them with technical details that carry no real interest for them. Cultivate the skill of knowing how much information to offer. As a manager, you are likely to work best with those who can translate your ideas and expertise into definite plans.

Your operating style is that of a pioneering professional. Colleagues will respect you for what you know and what you have achieved. Beyond that circle, you may find difficulty in reaching out to others, unless you are able to cultivate a means of communicating in a way that people outside your area of expertise can understand. Make a point of presenting a concise overview when clarity is required.

You also seem to have a propensity for taking an interest in, and caring for, others. Focus on cultivating a good atmosphere in the team by developing good relationships with others and offer to take on work which seems to have fallen through the gaps. Your efforts should earn you not only popularity but also a reputation as a considerate, diplomatic individual who can be relied upon to keep things running smoothly.

On a final note, you need to take account of the role for which you are least suited. You do not appear to have the characteristics of someone who obtains results by driving others forward. If you can work in harmony with someone who has these complementary qualities, your performance is likely to improve.

I would be interested to hear from:

  • People who have worked with me – does it represent me?
  • People in similar positions (library folk or PHI folk) who see themselves in this


Learning Log 26: Novel Approaches to Literature Searching Seminar

Learning Log





Significant Experience

I attended a seminar hosted by the Evidence Synthesis Network at Manchester University called ‘Novel Approaches to Literature Searching’

What Happened?

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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

Information Consultancies – Updated Presentation/Layout of Results for Users

I have recently updated how we as a service present information consultancies. Although they are still serviceable, I felt they were a bit too ‘academic’. By this I mean they were focused on the ‘primary research’ results often generated in databases such as the ones that make up HDAS. This often isn’t what our users want – who tend to be commissioners, public health/social care practitioners and community healthcare staff. They tend to want more decision (both clinical and commissioning) making resources such as systematic reviews, guidance, grey literature etc. The old layout gave everything equal weight in terms of quality, which to a lay person could be misleading.


The new layout reflects more a hierarchy of evidence, giving more weight to the higher quality research.It also factors in the ‘do once and share’ that hopefully flows through the NHS.


Let me know what you think 🙂

What Health Librarians Do Addition – Why are Health Libraries and Health Librarians so Important?

I have added the following blog post: “Why are Health Libraries and Health Librarians so Important?” by Her Slant Finely (on Twitter @herslantfinely) to the What We Do page  as it is quite frankly a brilliant introduction to life as a health sector librarian. A great starting point for anyone looking into health librarianship. It covers a lot of the skills required, and while library folk in other sub-sectors (primary care, mental health, more specific clinical librarians, health library management etc.) have different or additional roles and responsibilities – it was written as an introduction for non-health library folk. If it was to cover all aspects of Lesley’s job, it would no doubt break the 10,000 word barrier! (as would any comprehensive post about a health librarian role!).

In summary – a brilliant introductory post to life as a health librarian. I would also recommend subscribing to the Her Slant Finely blog for an interesting insight into the role of a modern medical librarian!


Thing 4: Current awareness – Twitter, RSS and Storify #CPD23

It has been a while (5 months in fact), but I have decided to restart #CPD23 as I feel it is a very useful CPD activity. Last years #CPD23 entries towards the end became quite negative, which really isn’t me, so these will be more positive

Current Awareness is something I have a strong passion for both in my professional position and as a professional, if that makes sense.

Professionally – current awareness provision to my organisation is a key component of my role. The library blog here – http://boltonpctlibrary.wordpress.com/ is the current awareness hub for the library and I actually use RSS feeds to manage the flow of information (I collate over 50 different sources and the appraise the results on a daily basis). RSS feeds are wonderful for this. Unfortunately my organisation actually blocked them, so I use Google i-reader as a way round that! I also use RSS feeds as one of my main current awareness tools for my personal professional development – you can view that here: http://www.google.com/reader/bundle/user%2F15015666129539122904%2Fbundle%2FLibrary_Michael%27s%20EBP%20Feed

I am quite a big proponent of Twitter, as a communication, as a marketing and as a current awareness resource, again both within my professional role and for myself in a ‘profesonal’ capacity, if you will. Professionally, I represent both the library service and the JSNA website – Bolton’s Health Matters. As a professional, I tend to use Twitter as an ad-hoc resource for current awareness, as it can be harder to spot. I should use the list functions more (I do on the other Twitter accounts). I feel Twitter is useful for finding the hidden gems within best practice rather than a standard resource.

I have only signed up to Storify for Thing 4, and I have to say my first impressions are very positive. I have seen a lot of people use it, but I was not sure whether it would be for me or would it be another Quora! I can see uses for it as an alternative way to share current awareness for my users and my own needs, though I would be interested to see if it can be ‘linked’ to wordpress (which it seems to export quite easily. If this is the case, then that is wonderful). I think it would be useful for narrative pieces and especially reflective pieces. It also seems like a potentially interesting way to produce case studies. I will have to play. Thank you Thing 4!

Useful Resources for Health Library Folk Addition – Health Apps for Mobiles

I have added a collection of Health Apps for mobile devices to the Useful Resources… page. This has been created and developed by Keele University, and is a useful example of a key function of any health library – to enable access via any and all means. As with all library sectors, mobile technology is an emerging force and is something all health library folk should keep a keen interest in. There is very much a clinical feel to ‘apps’ at this time, though commissioners often use clinical best evidence in decision making. This is also something Libraries can step into when looking at developing access to library services. The best example of this I am aware of is from FADE Library though I am sure there are many great examples available.

If you have any resources or examples of good practice – please share them with me!