Reflection on Week 5 of the LIHNN Literature Searching MOOC

13 11 2015

Week 5 has been the most mind-blowing week of the MOOC so far!  This week focused on summarising the results of literature searches and presenting them to the customer.  It has led me to reflect a lot about the service that we deliver in my own team and perhaps some adjustments that we could make to improve the customer experience.

Firstly, perhaps the most useful part of this week’s MOOC was looking at the evidence summary examples from other services.  I was blown away by the examples from Mersey Care in particular; they were so clear and engaging and really focused on making it easy for the customer to digest the available evidence.  Kudos to Clare Payne and the team at Mersey Care.  I also liked the way that SENSE described the different levels of searching that they provide, which raises the question of terminology again; is ‘literature searching service’ something that health professionals understand, and should we be calling it something different?

Something I’d be keen to understand from the librarians who provide a synthesising service is how they reached this level of service.  Currently, we provide a limited summary of the evidence, we certainly don’t summarise in depth, and the thought of synthesising every single literature search we get is terrifying.  But if this is the level of service that we are aiming for (which I think it would be, for me, anyway), then how do we move towards that?  Testing out the templates on one or two searches might be a good way to start I suppose.  Perhaps this also depends on organisational culture, and how much evidence base practice is embedded in the Trust.  We still get lots of general requests for things like ‘Give me all the evidence on managing head injury in A&E’, rather than clear, focused questions like the ones used in the examples here.  I’m not sure that all our search requests would be suitable for synthesis.  Any insight from people working in library services where synthesising services are provided would be really helpful.

Additionally, there’s a real issue here, I think, around the skills and confidence of librarians to deliver a service where we synthesise evidence routinely.  My experience is that it’s something that a lot of librarians are apprehensive about.  This MOOC is one way to encourage those skills to be developed, but I think further support in the workplace would be required in order to move us towards delivering this level of service.

Having said that, I’m itching to try out the synthesis templates demonstrated in this week’s MOOC content, and I will try to look out for a ‘real life’ opportunity to do so 🙂

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