2008 Research Agenda
The Research Agenda Committee of MLA's Research Section surveyed the MLA leadership during June 2008 to request the most important, answerable research questions facing the medical library profession. The Research Agenda Committee clarified and sought to eliminate apparent duplicates among the originally submitted sixty-two questions. Through a Delphi Method* process involving both its own membership and the Research Section Executive Committee, the Research Agenda Committee identified the following top-ranked research questions:
Top-ranked Research Questions
- In what ways do library services improve or benefit health care education and patient care?
- Beyond providing access to online resources, how do reference services, education services, etc., improve test results, papers, presentations of students or residents, and patient care? Specifically:
- How do library services [may select specific service] improve or benefit patient care as measured by:
- Change of treatment
- Number of patients' treatment with current best practice
- Reduction of patient stay
- Reduction of return visits
- Patient satisfaction
- How does library education or instruction impact student or resident performance as measured by:
- Performance on exams
- Quality and variety of sources cited in exams
- Quality and variety of sources cited in presentations
- Quality and variety of sources cited in papers
- Number of presentations given by residents
- Quality of patient care (as measured in question 1)
- In academic centers, how do library-provided literature searches impact research and publication as measured by:
- Number of searches requested
- Number of articles published by faculty/researchers requesting searches
- Number of articles published by faculty/researchers NOT requesting searches.
- Number of grants applied for by and number of grants awarded to faculty/researchers requesting searches
- Number of grants applied for by and number of grants awarded to faculty/researchers NOT requesting searches
- In hospitals having a librarian, is there a higher expectation to use evidence in practice versus hospitals having no librarian? Is there a difference between services provided by a "clerk" and a "librarian"?
- Is there a direct relationship between consumers'/patients' ability to access high-quality and relevant information (search and retrieve) and their ability to make health care decisions that are beneficial to their long-term health?
- Is there any correlation between quality of care provided by physicians who have access to and regularly utilize the resources provided by a library/librarian compared with those who do not?
- As a profession, how do we measure our impact in our environment - be it clinical or academic - in such a way that it influences the decision makers in our institutions?
- What features (search options, presentation of results, etc.) do information specialists value in retrieval systems? What features do other information users value in retrieval systems?
- What is the quantifiable evidence that the presence of a librarian, not just information resources, improves patient outcomes, increases research dollars, improves student outcomes (e.g., better board scores), or increases hospital intelligence (e.g., if the top hospitals have access to hospital librarians/libraries)?
- How does the medical librarian, using the print and online resources in the library, provide information to allow the physicians and other staff to give the best evidence-based care to the patients? How does this information impact on length-of stay, nosocomial infections, drug interactions, outdated protocols, patient safety, etc.?
Example: a new study supporting the premise that the medical librarian, using the print and on-line resources in the library, provides information to allow the physicians and other staff to give the best evidence-based care to the patients. This would impact on length-of stay, nosocomial infections, drug interactions, outdated protocols and patient safety among other things.
- In an academic setting, are United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) scores higher in schools where librarians were involved in the curriculum? Is there a correlation between library services and research?
- Does library/informatics training result in trainees then becoming more likely to engage in information-seeking behavior?
- How do we demonstrate the impact of librarian services on clinical care and research outcomes (e.g., infection rates, morbidity and mortality, grant dollars received, etc.)?
- How will professional librarians reengineer their skills to meet the growing challenges of embedded clinical decision support in electronic health records, data-mining, and integrated knowledge management of huge research databases?
- What librarians' cognitive errors lead to poor answers to reference questions, and how can we educate ourselves to avoid them? Conversely, what cognitive strategies produce the most successful results?
Questions certified independently by Martha R. (Molly) Harris, AHIP, and Jonathan Eldredge, AHIP, July 30, 2008.
For further information about MLA's research projects,
contact Kate Corcoran, firstname.lastname@example.org, 312.419.9094 x12.
* The Delphi Method is a group consensus technique that allows for generating many diverse ideas or statements in a confidential and non-judgmental environment. The Delphi method can involve participants via either postal, web-based or email communications. The Delphi method also can incorporate geographically dispersed groups to work asynchronously, but effectively without using face-to-face group meetings.