About Author: Amy Blevins

Posts by Amy Blevins


Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses

Systematic reviews and meta-analyses have long been considered one of the highest levels of evidence, and lately, publication frequency in health science journals is on the rise.  However, there are still a lot of people who are unaware of what goes into writing a systematic review or a meta-analysis. This post will discuss what a systematic review entails, how it differs from a meta-analysis, and the value that librarians bring to both types of studies.

A systematic review is a research study that seeks to find all the high quality studies done on a given topic so that they can be summarized into one article.  If the studies are homogenous or similar enough to one another, the data can be extracted and combined using statistical formulas. This statistical compilation of data is a meta-analysis. Not all systematic reviews contain a meta-analysis, but all citations to be included in a meta-analysis should be located through a systematic search, to reduce the risk of bias.

An important part of preparing a systematic review is to ensure that the method used is explicit and transparent, allowing for another team to replicate the process. The first step involves putting together a team of at least two researchers who will independently review the studies located.  These researchers then develop a research question and write up a protocol that explicitly detailing how the systematic review will be carried out. One of the details is the criteria against which studies will be assessed for inclusion in the review. It is highly recommended that researchers register their protocols before they begin the formal search for studies.  Once the protocol is in place, the search for and review of high quality studies can begin. Systematic reviews can take anywhere from one year to eighteen months to complete due to the rigorous nature of the review process. Librarians are highly skilled and trained to develop what are often complicated and lengthy search strategies in order to locate as many relevant studies as possible.  They are also familiar with standards and basic steps for completing a systematic review. In the report, Finding What Works in Health Care: Standards for Systematic Reviews, the Institute of Medicine recommends working with a librarian or other information specialist to plan out the search strategy and to peer review the final strategy used to locate studies. Three of the librarians are Hardin Library have attended the Systematic Review Workshop: The Nuts and Bolts for Librarians which takes place over the course of two and a half days.

If you would like to learn more about conducting and locating systematic reviews, please see the Systematic Review LibGuide. You are also welcome to contact us if you have any questions.

Image of Getting Help page on guide


Problems with Logging into NCBI and Proxy

It has come to our attention that some people are unable to access their NCBI accounts from off-campus.  Occasionally, access from on-campus is also not working. With this problem, attempts to log into NCBI accounts result in the page failing to load completely. Sometimes, there is a notice at the bottom of the screen that you can click to allow the page to completely load, but that isn’t always the case.

It turns out there is a problem with the way that the library’s proxy server is interacting with the NCBI login page.  (The proxy server is what makes the links to full-text work.) The issue is being addressed, but in the meantime, if you want to use your NCBI account through the Hardin Library website, please use the following link: PubMed NCBI. You should use this link instead of the link at the top right of the PubMed website.

Picture of NCBI link in PubMed

Once you are logged into NCBI, you can access PubMed by using the link at the bottom of the page as shown in this image.

Picture of the PubMed Link from the NCBI page

If you continue to have problems accessing your NCBI account or have any other questions, please contact Hardin Library.



Trip Database Redesign

Coinciding (approximately) with their 100 millionth search, Trip has announced that the latest version of their website has been released.

It’s a complete overhaul with a new design (including logo), new features and some powerful new tools (including a PICO search interface). They have produced a brief screencast to demonstrate some of the new features http://www.screenr.com/mCj8 but it’s probably best to try the site yourself – http://www.tripdatabase.com

If you aren’t familiar with Trip, it’s a free online database designed to provide integrated results from a variety of clinical resources including evidence-based synopses, systematic reviews, guidelines and original articles. Trip searches multiple resources, including but not limited to PubMed, National Guideline Clearinghouse, NICE, and Cochrane.

You’ll notice that there’s an option for creating an account for Trip, but it isn’t required. You can simply click the “x” on the top right corner of the pop-up box and start searching.  Since Trip includes both free and subscription based resources, you may need to locate full text in Hardin Library resources after identifying the citation in Trip.

As always, if you have any questions of comments, don’t hesitate to Contact Us.


New Grey/Gray Literature Guide

If you’ve had any experiences with systematic review or writing dissertations/theses, you may have heard of grey literature.

Grey  literature is unpublished and can be hard to find.   Some examples include:

  • Pre-Prints
  • E-Prints
  • Academic Works
  • Commission Reports
  • Committee Reports
  • White Papers
  • Technical Reports
  • Government Reports
  • Conference Reports
  • Technical Standards
  • Dissertations
  • Theses
  • Working Papers
  • Market Surveys
  • Data Sets

Recently, librarians from Main, Sciences and Hardin Library have put together a guide to help people get started with locating and using grey literature.  You can access this guide at http://guides.lib.uiowa.edu/graylit

As always, if you have questions about grey literature, please do not hesitate to contact Hardin Library.


EBSCOhost Mobile App

The EBSCOhost Mobile Application for iPhone provides you with the ability to search the EBSCOhost databases that the University of Iowa subscribes to via the iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch without having to enter your HawkID and password every time you search. This app is available at no cost to University of Iowa affiliates since the University of Iowa Libraries pay for access to EBSCOhost resources.

To download this app, simply go to an EBSCOhost database (like CINAHL) and you’ll see a link at the bottom of each database page where you can register your email to download the app. Make sure you pick an email account that can be accessed on the mobile device where you plan to download the app. If you don’t get a chance to download the app within 24 hours, simply go back into an EBSCO database and register for the app, again. Keep in mind that you must be connected to a cellular network or WiFi to use this app, but you will not have to enter your HawkID and password. You will have to register for a new authentication key every nine months.

On the Home page, you will see options for retrieving recent searches (up to 25), saved searches, saved articles, Help, and Legal. At the bottom of the screen, there are navigation options for Home, Search, Settings, Recent, and Saved.  From the Search screen, you can run keyword searches and take advantage of truncation and nesting. Once a search is run, the default is 20 results per page but there is an option for loading more results.  In instances where there is a PDF available through EBSCOhost, an icon will appear near the bottom right of the citation. Clicking on a result gives options for viewing an abstract when available, saving the citation (or PDF if available) to the Save section of the app, checking for full text via InfoLink, emailing the citation (and PDF if available), and other similar functions. When PDFs are available, there is an option to save them to another app on your device. Examples include Kindle, Stanza, iBooks, Mendeley or Dropbo which also provide options for printing articles. Near the top of the Search screen are buttons to Refine or Save.  The options for Refine change a bit depending on which databases are activated.  For example, options for CINAHL Plus included limiting by journal, SubjectMajor, SubjectAge, and SubjectGender. The Save button allows the user to save the search indefinitely. Unfortunately, the app cannot be connected to a personal EBSCO account.  This means that users are unable to save searches in a way that would be accessible through another device later on.

The Settings screen, allows you to choose which EBSCO databases you would like to search. The default is for the app to search all the databases available through the University of Iowa, but this can easily be changed using check boxes to the left of each database. You can also use the Settings page to set search options such as limiting to: full text, peer-reviewed, publication name (the title must be entered manually) or publication date.

If you don’t want to download another app, you can also use EBSCO through your mobile device by simply going to the Hardin Library homepage.  However, you will have to authenticate using your HawkID and password every time you use the database this way. You also won’t have the ability to save searches and articles/citations as you would if you were using the app.

There are some nice features available through the mobile site that are not available in the app as well. For example, if one is searching CINAHL Plus via the mobile website, there are search options that allow for limiting to “pre-CINAHL” or to “exclude MEDLINE records.” In addition, a list of field codes is provided in Mobile EBSCO for the advanced searcher. The app searcher can use field codes, but must find them elsewhere.  Finally, the Mobile EBSCO version allows searchers to email results by screen rather than having to email citations one at a time. Both the Mobile EBSCO and the EBSCOhost for iPhone contain simplified versions of EBSCOhost databases and neither allows for access to My EBSCOhost accounts.

As always, if you’d like assistance with using the EBSCOhost app, website, or any other library resource, please do not hesitate to contact Hardin Library.



Scopus Database Now Available

Students, faculty and staff now have access to Scopus. This resource shares some of the same features as Web of Science (WOS), including coverage of both health sciences and basic sciences. Scopus is available both on and off-campus from the Hardin Library Health Sciences A-Z List.

Some features of this database include:

  • All of the content of Embase including index terms (but no access to the Embase thesaurus or hierarchical [thesaurus-based] searching)
  • Author Identifier to automatically match an author’s published research including the h-index.
  • Citation Tracker to simply find, check and track citations in real-time.
  • Affiliation Identifier to automatically identify and match an organization with all its research output.
  • Journal Analyzer provides a quick insight into journal performance.
  • Alerts, RSS and HTML feeds to stay up-to-date.
  • Document Download Manager to easily download and organize multiple full-text articles simultaneously.
  • Data export via bibliographic managers such as RefWorks, EndNote and BibTex.

For more information about Scopus, please visit About Scopus. View tutorials and other information at Scopus Help. If you have questions or would like to arrange a demonstration of Scopus for yourself or your class, please contact the Hardin Health Sciences Library.

Screen shot of the Scopus Interface


PubMed Limits Are Now Filters

As you may have noticed, PubMed changed the way users limit search results. The link for “limits” has been replaced by a “filters” sidebar. This sidebar will function similarly to the way the limits page worked. For example, once filters/limits have been set, they will remain in place for all subsequent searches unless the user turns them off.

One difference users might notice is that filters will not show if they are unavailable or not applicable for a search. For example, if you run a search on a topic where there hasn’t been a meta-analysis done, the option to limit your search to meta-analyses will not be available.

A feature that should be used with caution is the “Text Availability” filter located prominently at the top of the filters bar. Remember that these filters are for people that do not have access to a health sciences library. Students, faculty, staff, residents and fellows of the University of Iowa should avoid these filters and use our InfoLink button instead (which is seen when you access the abstract view). This will ensure that high quality articles are not missed. Remember that University of Iowa affiliates can also take advantage of our free interlibrary loan service. http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/hardin/illa.html

To learn more, please check out this tutorial on NLM’s YouTube channel http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGs547njZ7U&feature=youtu.be, read NLM Technical Bulletin http://www.nlm.nih.gov/pubs/techbull/mj12/mj12_pm_sidebar.html or feel free to contact Hardin Librarians a http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/hardin/contact.html


RefWorks Enhancements

With the New Year comes a new release of Refworks!  In addition to general stability improvements, the new release has several enhancements.  Of these, one of the most exciting is the new Drag-and-Drop functionality for the Quick Access bar which means that users can click on the grey bar above any reference summary and drag the item to the Quick Access bar.

This image shows the ability to click on a citation and drag it into a folder.

In addition, usability revisions include new icons in the Organize & Share Folders area for Twitter, Facebook and over 300 other social bookmarking cites. You can easily share folders with all your Facebook friends or on Twitter with the click of a button.

Image of icons in RefWorks for sharing ciations to social media.

 Also, users will now be able to create New Folders directly from the Add to Folder icon. This makes the process much more seamless since you won’t have to change screens if you need a new folder after importing new references.

 This is an image of the option for creating new folders.


As always, if you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re here to help you with RefWorks whether you are just starting out or a long time user.


Getting to know and Keeping up with Health Sciences Apps

Mobile devices are getting more useful every day. You might be one of the folks that just bought the new iPhone 4S or you might have an iPad, Blackberry or Android. It’s possible you’ve never owned a mobile device but are thinking about it now that they are becoming more affordable. Either way, you might be interested in finding out what sort of apps you could use to improve the way you study or practice a health sciences profession. Below are a few resources to consider.

Reviews on Medical Apps and/or Mobile Devices


The blog iMedicalApps  is run by health professionals where people talk about new mobile technologies and review different apps. As you can see from their “About” page, they are very transparent in who is writing the blog posts. The editors work in Internal Medicine, Emergency Medicine, and Oncology/Surgery. Although the site is a little busy with ads and images, there is a nicely tabbed navigation system that allows users to browse posts based on device (iPhone, Android, iPad, Blackberry or All), Medical Specialty (31 to choose from including Internal Medicine, Surgery, Nephrology and Family Practice), or “Top Apps” by related fields or platforms.

Other Sites

Of course, there are other sites that will help you keep up with new with medical apps. Although not specifically dedicated to apps or medicine, one resource to follow is Wired Campus a blog from the
Chronicle of Higher Education.  Just the other day, they had an interesting post on the usefulness of updating to the iOS 5 operating system for iPhones, iPod Touches or iPads called “A Quick Introduction to iOS 5: Why You Might Update Your Device.” Another blog to follow from The Chronicle of Higher Education is ProfHacker. This blog is much more tech heavy than Wired, but has great tips for using a variety of technologies.

Information Specific to Apple Mobile Devices

Are you mostly interested in iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch information? If so, you might consider checking out TiPb: The #1 iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch blog.

Free (to you) Apps and Support

Finally, don’t forget that Hardin Library has a Mobile Devices Subject Guide with information on apps to which Hardin Library subscribes. If you are an affiliate of the University of Iowa, we can provide you with mobile access to apps for DynaMed, Natural Standard and much more! During the Fall 2011 semester, we’re also offering mobile device drop-in support from 7:30-9am Monday through Friday or by appointment. Contact us for more information.

Image of Smart Phones

photo courtesy of Flickr user louisvolant Creative Commons Licensed


PubMed and Internet Explorer 6

As of September 1, PubMed may no longer work with IE 6. The current version of Internet Explorer is IE 9 and if you look at the Microsoft Internet Explorer download page, it doesn’t go back further than IE 7.

You can find out which version of Internet Explorer you are using, you can find that information listed at the top of the browser under “Help” and then “About Internet Explorer” or under the gear icon on the top right of the browser and there is an option for “About Internet Explorer” near the bottom of the list.

If you are located within the hospital, you might want to contact HCIS to see if they can update your browser.  Other users should contact their IT support folks if they do not have administrative rights to their computers.

Another option is to work through Virtual Desktop. This site allows UI users to utilize software programs without downloading them to a computer.

If you have any questions or comments about accessing or using PubMed, feel free to contact us at (319) 335-9151 or lib-hardin@uiowa.edu.