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JMLA Author Interview: Michelle M. DeMars

Michelle M. DeMars is the lead author of the article "MeSH and text-word search strategies: precision, recall, and their implications for library instruction," which published in the January 2022 issue of JMLA.

What sparked the idea for your article?

The idea that sparked this article is really two-fold. As the health sciences librarian, I was frequently asked by my nursing faculty members to teach Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) to their students. This often resulted in mixed results and mixed reception by both the faculty and the students. That often left me wondering why: was it the subject matter or the student expertise that was at the root? Then while collaborating with a faculty colleague, who was working on a search string for a systematic review about type 1 diabetes, we discussed that same question: would using MeSH generate better search results with an expert at the helm? And that’s what got the whole ball rolling.

Based on your findings, what’s the next thing you’d want to see studied in this area?

I love providing information literacy instruction to students; it’s my favorite part of librarianship. The impact that MeSH can have on library instruction is an area that I would like to explore further. As well as the information literacy instruction trends and focuses of other medical and health science librarians.

Why is your article important for the membership to read?

We believe this article will be important to JMLA membership as they are often in a similar position when contemplating the pros and cons of teaching MeSH in the library classroom. Medical and health science librarians are also relied on by their clinical counter parts, such as doctors and nurses, for their searching expertise. The precision and recall of each search strategy may be valuable as they work with their colleagues.

Why did you choose to publish this article with JMLA?

We chose JMLA for a few reasons. One was that the differences between text-word and MeSH searching is a topic that JMLA had previously explored, and we were eager to add to that scholarly conversation. Another was that we felt that this was a topic that would be most interesting to the readership of JMLA, medical and health science librarians, as they frequently use and teach MeSH.

What advice do you have for others interested in publishing their research?

Write about what you love. If you are writing about something that you are passionate about, it will come through in your writing and hopefully make it interesting to the reader. Find a good partner. Collaborating with colleagues on research can provide not only another pair of hands to work through data but can also provide valuable input while writing and navigating the peer-review process. Never give up. If you are asked to revise and resubmit, review the comments, make some changes, and send it back in.  It is just the beginning of a conversation and one that could lead to your article being published in the journal of your choice, like JMLA.

DeMars MM, Perruso C. MeSH and text-word search strategies: precision, recall, and their implications for library instruction. J Med Libr Assoc. 2022;110(1):23–33. DOI:

Have a research project of your own you'd like to publish? Check out JMLA's submission guidelines here

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