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RTI Research Spotlight: Research Capacity of Hospital Librarians: Differences and Impact

Research is the cornerstone of academic inquiry — the twain go together like every book and its reader; literature and searching; citing and sources; information and literacy; PubMed and MeSH; etc. So it would not be surprising to think that librarians working in academic teaching hospitals had greater research capacity than their counterparts in community hospitals… right? But, what is research capacity? Is it different between librarian groups or does it impact their support of Graduate Medical Education programs? All of these are “QTNA”—questions that need answers — and this librarian attempted to answer some in an original research study.

This project considered individual, professional, and institutional characteristics of hospital librarians to quantitatively frame and evaluate research capacity. Almost 100 questionnaire responses to 10 multi-item questions were analyzed for statistically significant trends but none were initially found. Deeper diving yielded three questions in the professional domain with enough variance in responses to indicate that mentorship, collaboration, and networking played major roles in librarian research capacity.

Many lessons were learned and shared by this novice librarian researcher, but the take-away from this formal inquiry into one facet of hospital librarianship has a familiar ring to it: further research is needed. If you were looking for a ‘sign’ to kick-start your research career, let this be it!

Tanisha Mills, MLIS, AHIP, is a fellow of the 2019 MLA Research Training Institute (RTI), and this project was the focus of her research. The RTI project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (RE-95-17-0025-17).

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