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The Research Imperative: Appendix 4

Action Plan


Ann McKibbon, PhDThe Research Imperative action plan is subdivided under each recommendation into short-term (achievable within one to two years), mid-term (achievable within two to five years), long-term (achievable after five years or more), and on-going.

1. MLA will promote the importance of research to the MLA membership and to other health information professionals, associations, funding agencies, and partners in order to improve health outcomes.

Short-term activities
  • Ask the MLA Research Section to create a forum for identifying research priorities in the field.
  • Require MLA units and chapters to include “What have we done to advance research” in their required reports.
  • Launch a “Year of Research” initiative with a series of relevant events.
  • Ask the Research Section to recommend annually to the MLA Board of Directors an MLA research agenda that suggests research topics of highest priority to the association.
Mid-term activities
  • Regularly solicit and/or fund review articles for the JMLA that will synthesize the findings, for use by health sciences librarians, of one or more topics in the information sciences about which a significant body of literature exists.
  • Encourage the MLA Credentialing Committee to increase the range of research-related activities for which it awards points. This could include coursework as well as participation in institutional review boards, theses or dissertation committees, or animal care and use committees at their home institutions.
On-going activities
  • Communicate MLA’s research commitment to its partners and stakeholders outside of MLA, including associations, funding agencies, and legislative staff.
  • Recognize the international nature of research and encourage and facilitate collaborative research among its members and librarians from around the world.

2. MLA will promote the Research Imperative policy statement and its research priorities to the membership and to other associations, funding agencies, and partners.

Mid-term activities
  • Work with the Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries (AAHSL) and hospital librarians to collaborate on developing research priorities for the profession.
  • Explore opportunities for new information sciences research grants with federal and private funding organizations.
Long-term activities
  • Promote MLA’s research priorities to graduate schools of library and information science, library faculty, and academic librarians so research questions from MLA’s priorities can be studied to add to the profession’s body of knowledge.
On-going activities
  • Communicate its commitment to research to the MLA membership by promoting the association’s Research Imperative on an ongoing basis.

3. MLA will recognize, reflect, and advance health sciences information research through its organizational structure.

Short-term activities

Recognize dissertation-related research through the Academy of Health Information Professionals.

Review and, if necessary, restructure MLA's credentialing program to provide enhanced recognition for producing and using research.

Extend academy membership credit for CORE contributions.

  • Position a member of th e Board of Directors to act as point person for all research-related initiatives undertaken by MLA.
Mid-term activities
  • Increase the amount of funding available through the Thomson Scientific/MLA Doctoral Fellowship.
  • Expand the MLA Mentoring Program to assist MLA members who wish to start or collaborate on research projects, and enlarge and publicize the research mentoring programs established by the Research Section.
  • Establish a brokering service that matches practicing librarians who have research questions and suitable research populations with academic librarians and information scientists who have research expertise and commitment to conduct research.
  • Organize a research methodology consulting service for MLA members.
  • Establish an award for the most rigorous and relevant original research article published in the JMLA.
  • Recognize libraries that encourage or support research.
  • Elevate the Research Section Award to an association research award.
  • Encourage library directors to recognize the role of research in professional life and incorporate the standards of evidence-based practice into management practices including making time available; enabling the role of librarians as partners in multidisciplinary research; and encouraging grant-seeking activities, presentations at conferences, and publication.
  • Develop guidelines for research support services that health sciences institutions should provide to their librarian employees.
  • Develop guidelines for employers who host graduate student internships.
  • Structure ML A publications, including the JMLA, to give greater prominence to new research findings, critical analysis of research, and implications of research for practice.
  • Dedicate an MLA staff position to research initiatives and programs in a manner similar to what now exists for education.
Long-term activities
  • Identify the kinds of training fellowships or grants that are likely to attract beginning and mid-career librarians, including internships in health information science and informatics research, and encouraging funding agencies and employers to support these arrangements.
  • Develop an MLA program of small research planning grants that will enable members to do the background work necessary to develop solid research proposals.
  • Locate and publicize research funding mechanisms that are likely to be attractive to health sciences librarians and their collaborators.
  • Encourage the development of funding programs to support applied research by health sciences librarians and their collaborators.
  • Establish a new recognition award acknowledging and celebrating a successful research project.
  • Ensure that production and use of research is given increased recognition in MLA's awards program by establishing a new award for best research project of the year and by other appropriate means.
  • Explore establishing an MLA award for multidisciplinary research.
  • Define model health sciences librarian positions that combine research with practice or teaching, and develop a strategy to establish and obtain funding for a small number of such positions in academic departments and in health sciences institutions.

Develop a program of joint meetings and publications with other professional associations whose members are natural research collaborators for health sciences librarians.

4. MLA will provide and promote education and training to support health sciences information research.

Mid-term activities
  • Develop a suite of research-related courses that addresses areas of professional practice such as research design (hypothesis testing, qualitative, cohort, randomized controlled trials, systematic reviews, etc.) critical appraisal, and various types of statistical analyses.
  • Work with NLM to establish a research training program to develop a cohort of mentors and mentees with a research project outcome, modeled after the NLM/AAHSL Leadership Fellowship program and the Woods Hole Informatics Institute.
  • Establish a research specialization in the MLA CE program, similar to the Consumer Health Information Specialization (CHIS), that includes a complete range of basic and advanced courses in quantitative and qualitative research and in critical analysis.
Long-term activities
  • Seek funding for pilot implementations of academic programs to develop quantitative and qualitative research knowledge and skills with an increased research focus.
  • Encourage incorporating assessment of related research into relevant MLA CE courses and consider adding EBLIP applications to CE courses, where relevant.
  • Encourage graduate schools of library and information science to integrate EBLIP applications in their courses, to include research projects in information science in the curriculum, and to develop research internships.
On-going activity
  • Through the Research Section’s Research Resources Committee, biennially maintain a robust list of research tools and resources for MLA members. These resources include the MLA Research Section’s research and the Research Imperative’s evidence-based librarianship bibliographies.

5. MLA will disseminate health sciences information research through publications, CORE, and other means.

Short-term activities
  • Support the MLANET Editorial Board, working with the CORE editor, in marketing CORE to the membership as a vehicle for depositing and making research-related resources accessible to others.
Mid-term activities
  • Request that the JMLA assist with knowledge translation of its research articles—identify actionable information in its pages through a synthesis of practical applications.
  • Structure MLA publications, including the JMLA, to give greater prominence to new research findings, critical analysis of research, and implications of research for practice.
Long-term activities
  • Require that MLA submit to CORE a complete set of tools, datasets, and descriptive text for all research studies funded by and conducted on behalf of the membership.
On-going activities
  • Feature reports of research results at all MLA meetings.
  • Use MLANET or other mechanisms to highlight research in progress and recent research findings with important implications for health sciences librarians.
  • Encourage members to routinely and voluntarily contribute to CORE any relevant research materials and resources that could be useful to others.
  • Require any individual or entity receiving research funding in whole or part from the association or its units to submit to CORE the appropriate links to or metadata describing instruments used, datasets, and descriptive text.
  • Encourage the MLA Research Section to routinely enhance and maintain CORE’s research-related content.

6. MLA will continue to annually assess the progress made toward enhancing the research knowledge and skills of its members and the achievement of its research agenda.

Long-term activities
  • Conduct an impact study of the research policy statement to see how well MLA is advancing the association’s research imperative.
On-going activities
  • Annually assess the goals, recommendations, and the action plan outlined in the Research Imperative and report findings to the membership.


Appendix 3 | Table of Contents