Using Scientific Evidence to Improve Information Practice
Information issues have moved to a prominent position on the health care research agenda, and health sciences librarians are well placed to investigate many of them. To take advantage of this strategic position, health sciences librarians must increase their ability to
Research is systematic inquiry into a problem, with the goal of gathering evidence to produce new knowledge. Research relevant to health information covers a spectrum that includes development of clinical indicators; curriculum analysis; program evaluation; abstracting and indexing; information storage and retrieval; thesaurus construction; technological innovation; assessment of information needs and information-seeking behavior; and study of the use and impact of information on patients, caregivers, researchers, and students.
In the inherently complex and multidisciplinary world of health information, many important research questions demand collaborative study involving practitioners and academicians; data from multiple sites; and experts from several disciplines, including information science
Scientific evidence gained from research supports better decision making in information service as well as in health care. The key to evidence-based information practice is the ongoing development and application of health information science research. Not all health sciences librarians will produce research, but all must effectively use the knowledge base generated by research. By using and adding to the research knowledge base of health information science, health sciences librarians can increase their real and perceived value to the health sciences community.
Health sciences librarians have an unmatched opportunity to make positive contributions to health care and to information policy. To take advantage of this opportunity, librarians must:
The analysis and application of the research knowledge base of information science must become part of the culture of health sciences librarianship. In addition to basing decisions about information services on scientific evidence, health sciences librarians must be alert to opportunities to apply their knowledge base to any information issue that is important to health care, research, and education.
The percentage of health sciences librarians with full- or part-time research as a job responsibility should be comparable to the percentage of researchers in other health professions. The number of practicing health sciences librarians who are directing or participating in research and disseminating research results must increase.
The primary responsibility for increasing the profession's research contribution rests with individual health sciences librarians. Individuals must:
To facilitate research by its members, the Medical Library Association (MLA) collaborates with other groups including educators, administrators, health care professionals, researchers, policy makers, and funders to establish an environment that is conducive to increased production and use of research. This positive environment includes
As part of a broader program of data collection and analysis aimed at understanding the activities and needs of health sciences librarians, MLA develops and applies measurements of the research activity of its members.
Medical Library Association
Last Updated: 2007 July 13