My week: Natasha Chowdory, a CEBIS Specialist at a large hospital in the West Midlands

Our work is fairly constant, with large influxes in September and January from people gearing up for conference submissions. However, it’s not just conference submissions but also applying for research grants. A fair amount of the research we do, will contribute to bids that individuals make for the hospital – some of which that have been really successful! I am constantly amazed by how little time people leave to get the research for their proposal done and the date of the proposal itself.  We have become adept at guessing the difference between someone who sends us an email saying ‘ASAP’ and one saying ‘as soon as possible’.

We are fortunate that our manager encourages us to get training, and so…this week, we’ve had ‘levels of evidence’. In the past we have we have attended ‘Critical Appraisal Training’ and had the more specific ‘Literature Search Training’. There is an avid librarian community on Twitter, and for those of who can’t make it to conferences and away-days sharing what we learn via social media is key to helping ourselves and others develop within the profession. As we work in the NHS, there is definitely a trend of ‘doing more with less’ and we’re constantly brainstorming ways to raise our profile within the hospital but also keep our own work varied and interesting, we’re currently planning on a series of mini-videos to share on Twitter via @CEBIS to share our tips and tricks on searching with other information professionals. The aim is to make all librarians/information professionals feel empowered to do literature searching and to not view it a magical art that only a few can do.

There have been many debates in our office as to whether something should belong in certain categories, we have regular arguments about if something is a ‘case series’ OR a cohort study.  The top of the pyramid is inhabited by ‘systematic reviews’ but as we always like to say, your systematic review is only as good as what’s been reviewed and the rigorousness of the person (it should be people!) who did it. Equally, things like narrative reviews, editorials are at the very bottom but this is actually really misleading in our work. Sometimes, the qualitative information in an expert opinion can be incredibly more useful to a user than a systematic review that delves into studies that may be too much for someone looking for a summary on a topic. By the same definition when you’re looking at Random Trials, the title may sound great, but when you start looking at the details and it’s only 10 people or, it’s only been done over a few weeks…well it’s not something that you would want to include. Because sometimes, it really is hard to figure out and it’s a combination or practice but also just reading the article a couple of times. It is comforting to know that many academics have problems with exactly the same question.  Janet Martin (Associate Professor, Department of Anesthesia & Perioperative Medicine and Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics) plays ‘Name that Study! Do We need a new Category?’ with her students yearly.

This is a big part of the work we do for our users, essentially taking a lot of the legwork out their ongoing research.

One of the best parts of the job is learning about all the different conditions, and it means that no one day is the same as we always have requests coming in. It’s not always the clinical requests (where we have to look up the words) either. Questions around education, simulations, reflective practice are also part and parcel of what we do. The irony being, that these types of questions don’t fit into a traditional search methodology for the databases we use; making them more challenging, to parse into a search string to enable us to find the right and relevant information I recently did this:

Any research that is currently available on sound/acoustic therapy for tinnitus patients.

PubMed

sound therapy or acoustic therapy or aural rehabilitation or vibroacoustic therapy or VAT)) AND tinnitus) AND new research AND Humans

sound therapy or acoustic therapy or aural rehabilitation or vibroacoustic therapy or VAT)) AND tinnitus) AND current or new research AND Humans

sound therapy or acoustic therapy or aural rehabilitation or vibroacoustic therapy or VAT AND tinnitus Filters: Humans

sound therapy or acoustic therapy or aural rehabilitation or vibroacoustic therapy or VAT AND tinnitus AND new research AND Humans

sound therapy or acoustic therapy or aural rehabilitation or vibroacoustic therapy or VAT AND tinnitus AND new research Filters: Humans

aural rehabilitation AND tinnitus) AND new research Filters: Humans

sound or acoustic therapy)) AND tinnitus) AND new research

sound or acoustic therapy AND tinnitus AND new research Filters: Humans

sound or acoustic therapy AND tinnitus

NICE

Tinnitus

TRIP

sound therapy and tinnitus

acoustic therapy and tinnitus

CINAHL

sound therapy or acoustic therapy or aural rehabilitation or vibroacoustic therapy or VAT AND tinnitus AND new research AND Humans

sound therapy or acoustic therapy and tinnitus

Google Scholar

sound or acoustic therapy AND tinnitus AND new research

We use a diverse group of databases but PubMed is usually the best place to start – especially if it’s a clinical question. PubMed allows you to set up your search to become increasingly more narrow and detailed but something like Trip can only use keywords and even then you will pick up a lot of studies/guidelines/policies that are usually irrelevant to what you’re looking for. NICE Evidence provides access to high quality authoritative evidence and best practice – especially useful when we’re searching for Guidelines. I know you’ll be surprised to see Google (in any form!) on that list but it’s sometimes the best place to start to scope out what is actually available on a topic. BY doing this, if you are struggling this will enable you to figure out what your search terms might be, as some questions can use phrases that haven’t been widely used. A most recent example is a question I’ve had on ‘The use of pabrinex and hydrocortisone in sepsis’ – pabrinex is a not a commonly indexed terms in any of the databases we look at so I had to find out what the components of it are. Turns out that pabrinex is primarily made up of thiamine and vitamin c (also known as ascorbic acid). Adding these phrases to my search string meant that I was able to find results but also relevant results for the user.  This is the part of my job I enjoy – where you get to decipher your requests to find stuff!

My background is as a qualified librarian but I’ve never worked in a traditional library and my colleagues are from an equally varied background! This means that we bring different skillsets to the role namely – systematic thinking, an eye for detail and the ability to think critically and laterally about the questions that we’re given.  It’s not something I ever saw myself doing when I was little but the more I’ve worked in libraries the more I’ve come to enjoy the process of searching, understanding and sharing information and knowledge with an interested audience

 

About Natasha Chowdory
Natasha Chowdory

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