NHS Health Care Libraries Supporting Research by Matt Holland and Victoria Treadway

Research is firmly embedded in the NHS Mandate 2017 – 2018 (see Objective 8 “To support research, innovation and growth”). It probably didn’t need a directive to point out the importance of research to patients and patient care. Research is also core business for NHS libraries. This is a reflection on how we can make research a distinctive part of our service offering. It’s based on personal experience and best practice using the tried and tested ‘n things’ model.

  1. Go to the Research Committee It’s a safe bet that no one ends their career wishing they had gone to more meetings. However, in something as diverse as research in a large organisation the Research Committee can be the best place to get an overview of current and new research activity. If you are not on the committee as a member, you could ask to be an observer or to be circulated the minutes.
  2. Collaborate with your Research Department If you can make friends with your nearby Research Department team there are opportunities to collaborate on events or projects to make life a little easier (and fun?) for your organisation’s researchers. Mid Cheshire are planning a Research Expo for June and Wirral are coordinating a Randomsied Chocolate Trial to celebrate this year’s International Clinical Trials Day (May 19).
  3. Host your organization’s publications database Creating a database exists at on a continuum starting with a quick and dirty solution using freemium reference software (Zotero / Mendeley) and ends with Institutional Repository. The library is the natural home for this project. It also contributes to Knowledge Management objective viz, connecting with corporate knowledge, mapping knowledge assets; collating and enabling shared access to directories; policies, guidance and protocols. Knowledge about the usefulness of a database or Institutional Repository will vary so it may just be a case of carpe diem or getting on with it.
  4. Be the source of information about the research landscape Make the library the centre for information about research methods, academic writing, training courses, support for research, regional and national organisations, newsletters, research information on social media. You could add this into your social media, current awareness mix or set up a separate space for researchers. (See NWAS LKS Case Study on using Yammer).
  5. Be the publications expert for your trust Publication isn’t as easy as it was. There are choices and decisions to be made. Choosing Open Access (Green/Gold), avoiding predatory publishers, fulfilling funding requirements, funding Article Publication Fees (APCs), navigating journal rankings, choosing appropriate journals, copyright, promoting your research and more. Being the expert and the place to go for information for help adds real value, especially for early career researchers.
  6. Offer researchers a bespoke service Clearly all our users are at heart researchers from the humble diploma to post doctoral students. Even if it doesn’t change the service you offer badging part of your service as for researchers can make promoting the library to the research community easier and give you a seat at the research table. This also fits with LQAF 5.3i Library/knowledge service staff support the research activities of the organisation[s] served.
  7. Develop your research skills Nothing helps you to understand the viewpoint of a researcher better than being one yourself. Opportunities for librarians to get involved in research are out there, and may vary from co-authoring a systematic review to getting to grips with qualitative research methodology (as did a bunch of clinical librarians from the NW not long ago).

Matt Holland, NWAS LKS and Victoria Treadway, Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. NWAS LKS is supported by HCLU North.

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Reflections on Recent CPD by Rosalind McNally

I have recently taken advantage of one of the many benefits of CILIP membership through their online learning. The CV webinar I attended late one weekday evening was delivered by Alistair Morris www.cvandinterviewadvisors.co.uk

I cringed as Alistair brought me kicking and screaming into 21st century recruitment techniques. I looked down at my 6 page, tea stained, CV. No one is interested in that summer stock moving job you did at Manchester Polytechnic 25 years ago. The fact you like walking? No one cares.

It was explained that modern recruitment success relies on you aligning the key terms for the “Hot skills”, that is, the hard functional and technical skills of your professional role with those of the recruiter. Filtering of CVs or applications may well be done electronically or by a person under instruction to look for those key terms only. Knowing what these are is essential. Most Library staff in the health sector will be applying by application through the NHS Jobs website, but the approach needed will be the same.

What are our Hot Skills?

I considered what these are for an Outreach Librarian using the PKSB for Health and Knowledge for Healthcare. You can also look at job specifications as they are advertised to monitor this.

Further learning points were:

The way you see your CV should be the business case for you. At a career grade Band 5 Librarian on 25k that’s 125k+ over 3 years so you have to pitch to that and what will be the Return on Investment for the organisation, to have a chance of an interview

Try structuring your CV into sections with a concise Key Value Proposition of your key areas of expertise, career highlights and recent career history. These can then be more expansive in the individual sections, or be used within an application for a particular role.

You can use techniques like FAB (Feature and Benefit) for your Key Value Proposition, and STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) for your career highlights.

More traditional sections of the CV, that is, Career History, Earlier Career, Qualifications/CPD, Personal History, Recommendations, should all focus on achievements.

So where am I now? Having ditched that hobbies section I have drafted some FAB statements for me from my last 6 years, which I can use in meetings and to inform discussions as I am in 2 services integrating currently. I also feel more confident of my own value having spent time reflecting on what my achievements have been, which for all of us can get lost in the pace of modern working life.

Late night webinars may not suit everyone but I found it fit around my caring responsibilities, and you can also enjoy a glass of wine in the process. The company provides a commercial CV writing service and interview coaching and has some good free taster resources you can access from the site.

Rosalind McNally
Outreach Librarian
Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust

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LIHNN Introduction to Literature Searching MOOC – Follow Up Survey

The LIHNN Introduction to Literature Searching MOOC took place in the autumn of 2015. You can read about the development of the course and the initial evaluation in the report which was published in January 2016.

In January of this year the MOOC developers contacted the individuals who had completed the initial evaluation survey and asked them a small number of further questions to try and establish if the MOOC had achieved any long term impact.


Who responded to this survey?

There were 77 respondents to the new survey. Of these most work in either the NHS (41) or the academic sector (22). Almost all of the respondents are based in England (62). These demographics are reflective of those reported in the original evaluation.


Was there increased confidence in literature searching?

The main purpose of putting the course together had been to increase participants’ confidence in undertaking a literature search. In the follow up survey we asked the question “Do you feel more confident in undertaking literatures searches as a result of participating in the MOOC?” The overwhelming answer to this was Yes (73)!


Had people used the MOOC since the course ended?

We were interested to know if people had revisited the MOOC modules since the course ended. Originally we had intended to close the MOOC down in January 2016 but participants requested that we left it open so we did. The majority of respondents to this survey (45) told us that they had revised the MOOC since completing the course.

As a follow up question we asked respondents what part of the MOOC they revisited and why. The responses to this were wide ranging and included.

“All of weeks 5 & 6. As an experienced lit searcher the earlier weeks were just confirmation of my knowledge and technique, but these last couple were the real “gold” as far as I was concerned, and we have drawn on these extensively to review and improve our literature searching service.”

“The synthesis section to look at using a synthesis matrix in our evidence summaries I’ve been through most of the MOOC again and incorporated some useful information into my information skills training sessions”

“I re-visited the part that explained about exploding, major, selecting thesaurus terms. Found the MOOC had a concise way of explaining this which I used with my own training delegates.”

The most mentioned topics were those on search strategies, search techniques and summarizing. However a wide range of topics were mentioned in response to this question which demonstrates the overall value of all the six modules which went to make up the MOOC.


Had doing the MOOC resulted in participants doing something different or new in their workplace?

Of the respondents who answered this question (45) all but one reported doing something different or new.

“I used the MOOC at the time to help build skills and confidence in our enquiry team. I know some of them still refer to it!”

“I was a library assistant when I did the MOOC with little experience of searching. I interviewed for my first professional post and was asked about searching. I talked about what I had learned through the MOOC. I wouldn’t have been able to answer this question as thoroughly had it not been for the MOOC. I got the job and now use the skills I learned regularly and still refer back to the materials. The MOOC was a great introduction to searching for me as it started at the very beginning and went right through to more complex things like appraisal and synthesis.”

“In 2016 we undertook a complete evaluation of our literature search service to members and staff, this year we will be implementing our recommendations and I hope to use some of the materials from MOOC especially those on presenting search findings”

“It definitely helped me have more confidence in my literature searching. It helped me to be more approach evidence summary in a more structured way.”

“It has changed the way I think about and show students how to search health databases. This MOOC filled in the gaps in my knowledge and I was able to use this knowledge to get a promotion from working on the library front desk to now teaching literature searching to students and researchers.”

“We drew up a literature searching protocol to ensure a consistent approach across the team. We have redesigned our bib.list results template and adopted the 6S hierarchy to present results. We also reviewed the way we gather impact data. It gave me the spur to discuss peer review of search strategies with my colleagues, and we will be taking this forward. We will be continued to use the synthesising and summarising sections very heavily when preparing to offer this type of service in the next few months.”


What next?

The findings from the original evaluation plus the information obtained from the follow up survey point to this method of delivering training as one which can reach a large number of participants in a cost effective way and which has an impact on individuals and their services. The final question in the follow up survey asked respondents if they would be interested in undertaking another MOOC and asked for suggestions for topics. A majority (45) said they would like to undertake another MOOC and a number of topics were proposed including critical appraisal and summarising and synthesising search results.

As a result of the success of the MOOC HCLU has funded a project to turn the six existing modules, which made up the literature searching course, into 6 standalone e-learning modules. It is hoped that these will be ready for use in summer 2017. A proposal has also gone to HCLU to develop a Critical Appraisal MOOC. This is currently under consideration until budgets are confirmed for 2017-18.

Gil Young
NHS LKS Workforce Development Manager North
NHS Health Care Libraries Unit – North 
Tel: 01942 482 584 OR Mobile: 0779 531 0852
E-mail: gil.young@nhs.net

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How to write the perfect and compelling research proposal by Fariba Bannerman

Research…is an ancient and ubiquitous activity. Curiosity about others and the worlds in which they live has always been displayed through conversation, asking questions, working together to see what happens after different kinds of actions are performed, talking or gossiping about others to tease out intentions and other reasons for behaviour, clarifying and understanding circumstances; all are fundamental research functions.[1]

I recently attended an event on ‘Writing Research Proposals’ organised by CILIP Library Information Research Group (LIRG) in Manchester.

This session was led by Professor Alison Brettle and Dr Roy Vickers from Salford University as well as Mark Burgess; subject Librarian from Manchester Metropolitan University.

The following reflect my key learnings and take away messages from this workshop in addition to some information which I have gathered through further reading.

It is widely known that there is no solid template for a research proposal. The reason for writing one is to get approval for a project such as a thesis or seeking funding outlining how one should undertake the project. It could also be asking for feedback to refine an idea. The audience or recipient of a proposal usually is a committee who will make a decision or provide feedback, looking for the following within the submission:

  • A well-developed outline with a clear focus
  • Background reading, thorough and up-to-date
  • Realistic scope within available time
  • Sponsorship requirements which meet obligations and standards
  • Originality, being special, different and challenging
  • Appropriateness of methods
  • Costs and expense – funding
  • Health and safety
  • Ethics, confidentiality, anonymity

Finding examples of previously accepted research proposals is always a good point to start. Examine them for format and style. Probably most importantly, first of all you need to check that your research idea is novel and you are not reinventing the wheel and your work will make a new and valuable contribution, using this as a justification for your proposed project.

Check that your research idea is original. You will need to scan the current and ongoing unpublished (invisible) research.  If a similar research exists you need to prove that you can carry out the research with more up-to-date and efficient methodology and techniques, expecting to find something new.

The following databases are good places to perform your investigation:

ClinicalTrials.gov: A registry and results database of publicly and privately supported clinical studies of human participants conducted around the world.

World Health Organisation international clinical trials registry platform search portal: The Clinical Trials Search Portal provides access to a central database containing the trial registration data sets provided by the registries such as EU-CTR. (http://apps.who.int/trialsearch/)

ISRCTN: A primary clinical trial registry recognised by WHO and ICMJE that accepts all clinical research studies. (https://www.isrctn.com/)

NIHR-HTA: A database providing free access to bibliographic information about ongoing and published health technology assessments commissioned or undertaken by members of INAHTA and other HTA organisations from around the world.

PubMed: Open access search of Medline.

Cochrane library: A collection of databases in medicine and other healthcare specialties provided by Cochrane and other organisations.

It is worthy of note the major differences between a proposal and a published research paper are that a proposal is written in future tense because it has not been conducted and it does not include analysed data, discussion and recommendations which the research paper would contain.


Components – What to include

Title: Short yet descriptive enough to capture the essence of what your study is about, capturing the attention of the readers.

Introduction:  Acts like a trailer for your research. It identifies key issues, placing your project within wider context and establishes relevance and timeliness by drawing on existing literature. It consists of problem statement, justifying the novelty and importance of your question, the focus and concern in your study. You need to demonstrate there is a significant question to address and why answering this question should matter and what contribution you research will make.

Another important element of introduction is the hypothesis, stating what you think the answer to the question would be, by building a robust rationale for the hypothesis by presenting reasons for the hypothesis based on previous similar (not exact) research.

Aims and Objectives:

Aim – What you are going to do

Objectives – How you are going to achieve your aim

Literature review:

The current body of knowledge regarding your research question, what is known about it in general, providing context to your current study. The literature review consists of the research related to your topic including all sides of the argument, addressing the gap in the literature.  Here you will synthesise the literature that you have found in order to position your research question relative to the knowledge base and how it fits with wider body of knowledge demonstrating your thinking and understanding about the topic.


This section is about what you will do and why.

Discussing the appropriateness and feasibility of your project as well as touching down on limitations and its design, explaining how you do your research and which methods you will utilise, including your data collection process (who, what, when and where), whether it is qualitative or quantitative or a mixed method of research and produce a short philosophical reflection as why you have chosen one particular method –

  • Population or Samples (who you wish to take part in the study, how you are planning to recruit them, gender, age, ethnicity etc.)
  • Procedure or investigative techniques – what the sample will be doing, providing enough details
  • Materials / measures / instruments: such as questionnaires, puzzles, images
  • Methods to avoid biases
  • Data analysis: What data /tests will be used. What your plan is. How are you going to analyse your data

Ethical considerations:

Discuss ethical issues, especially if humans or animals are involved in your study. Ethical issues need to be considered at all stages of your proposal. From the beginning, obtaining an informed consent during data gathering, maintaining anonymity, confidentiality and accuracy leading to a reliable writing up and dissemination.


Include indicative outputs / outcomes.  Restate the hypothesis – what limitations might affect the conclusions in your project, potential implications of results and applied implications. Also you will mention how you will disseminate your findings and to whom, whether it is for internal or external audience. Is it going to be published in academic journals / newsletters / blogs/ or presented in a conference.


Using a Gantt chart you can make the key milestones and deliverables in your project easier to be visualised for yourself and the funder.

Resources required / Statement of Costs:

In this section you will outline the amount of funding and resources which you will require to carry out your research project. To draw up a realistic estimate you need to consider whether you will be recruiting staff or what equipment you will need. Does your project involve travelling? Does it require computing facilities? Try to read the guidelines and make yourself aware of the internal procedures in advance.

And finally, take a look at top reasons why we need research or what it can do for us:

To Describe > Explore > Examine Situations, Issues

To Explain > Understanding > To Provide Logic, Sense

To Categorise > Classify > Typologies

To Evaluate > Judgement > Measure

To Compare > Finding differences and Similarities

To Correlate > Influence and Relationship

To Predict > Future Trends and Patterns

To Control and Experiment > Cause and Effect

To Test Hypothesis / Theories

To Create Change and Making Policies

Fariba Bannermanx

[1] Emery, M. (1986) Introduction. In M. Emery (ed.) Qualitative Research, Canberra: Australian Association for Adult Education.

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LIHNN Library Managers Meeting – 14 March

The LIHNN Library Managers Meeting took place in Warrington on the 14 March 2017.

The morning session was a training session on how to make the best use of the Knowledge for Healthcare Talent Management Toolkit run by Debra Thornton and Lisa McLaren.

The afternoon session consisted of talks from David Stewart on Knowledge for Healthcare = Business as usual and Making STPs real for library services by Tracy Bullock, Chief Executive of Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS FT (no slides available).

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Big Day Out Up North on the 10 March 2017

This event was open to all members of the Northern Healthcare networks. Held at the National Railway Museum in York it aimed to give LKS staff time away from the day job to share experiences of using social media, running training sessions, promoting services and any other part of their job which they would like to share or would welcome advice on. The programme for the day is below along with links to presentations where they are available.

Joined Up CILIP, health and the wider profession – Jo Cornish

Adding Trust procedures and policies to the Royal Marsden Manual of Clinical Procedures – Janet Oliver

PHRC Offer – Rebecca Vaananen and Grace Kelly

Ten Minutes Sessions

  • Let Them Eat Cake – LQAF Thursdays and the power of cake! – Kieran Lamb


“Overall, attending the event has given me confidence to try out new things in my workplace and to think creatively about how I can problem solve in the library. It has made me think whether I do, or will do, anything that I could share at the next BDO.”

“I will definitely be introducing some of the productivity tools that Laura Drummond spoke about. I might try and adapt LQAF Thursdays too (all that cake in a two-person library might not be a good idea!) “

“Incorporate some of the ideas suggested by Dave Ashbey with handouts/guides for e-resources. Read March’s blog for A Million Decisions, as suggested by Jo Cornish. Look at the Learning Zone on the CILIP website”

“Hearing about the CILIP workforce mapping was useful. It was also nice to hear about projects from the other North regions like the eResources guides being developed and the dementia sessions. I also met a colleague who had just started working in the same building for a different part of the NHS – this will be a uesful link in the future “

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Manchester ramblings by Helen Kiely

On Tuesday morning I hot-footed up to the train station and hopped on the train to Manchester to attend the CILIP NW members day and AGM entitled ‘Exploring the World of Publishing.’ It was my first time attending a CILIP NW event so I was a little concerned I would a. not know anyone and b. get totally lost. Luckily I was proved wrong on both counts and was lucky enough to run into several people from the network.

At the welcome Michael Cook said that the best thing about the CILIP NW meetings is that you always go away having learned something totally new- knowing very little about publishing I knew that this would definitely be the case for me!

The keynote speaker kicking off the day was Kate Arnold current CILIP President who took us though several topics including the work CILIP is doing in line with the CILIP Action Plan 2016-2020 from advocacy (#amilliondecisisions etcetera) to the changes in membership fees. She reminded everyone that these would be voted on at the CILIP Extraordinary General Meeting on 23rd March in London, and reminded everyone who wouldn’t be able to attend to make sure they cast their vote via proxy- more details are available here: https://www.cilip.org.uk/egm17 .

I was particularly interested when she discussed the future of library and information professionals, both in terms of who/what types of professionals come under CILIPs remit of membership and also in relation to the Open Access movement. She noted that for many academic publishers the writing is on the wall, as it were, and the future of academic articles is likely to be a continuing trend towards Open Access publishing. Academics, of course, generally gain nothing from their work being behind a paywall where others cannot access it which in turn affects both the impact of their work and contributions upon the wider community. It is important to for the impact this will have on library services in terms of accessing, supplying and researching information.

At the same time, she noted that whilst it becomes increasingly easy for people to publish directly online, bypassing publishers entirely, there is still a need both for peer review in the sense of academic articles, and a role for library and information service staff today- including ensuring any produce work is indexed and tagged to ensure it is searchable. She highlighted that some publishers are now advertising meta-data tagging as part of a package of things they can do for article producers (with the likely eventual aim of charging an additional fee to do this) whilst said writers are not aware that they already have access to that expertise within their own institutions as part of their library services.

The next speaker of the day was Maria Grant, Editor of Health Information and Libraries Journal who gave another very interesting view into the world of writing for publication with many useful tips to those who struggle to focus on what they want to write and to those who want to develop experience in writing for academic publication. Some recommendations included:

  • Keep an ‘ideas diary’ wherever you go and jot down ideas for papers as they come
  • When deciding which paper to prioritise working on, write down your working titles and rank them in order of interest, time it will take to produce, information available and any other relevant criteria
  • For those interested in starting out in academic publication, look into becoming a reviewer on a journal or start small with newsletter publications and other forms first
  • Expect your manuscript to come back with revisions
  • Another helpful thing for beginners is to work as part of a team with more experienced authors and learn from them

Along with much more information. She also raised this very interesting point: institutions expect their academics and teachers to write for publication, but not necessarily their library and information service staff.

The next speaker was Catherine Jones, a librarian judge for the 500 words writing competition. Most people are likely now aware of the yearly writing competition for children on the BBC (500 words) but what I certainly wasn’t aware of was that the first wave of judges are comprised of librarians and teachers, who each read around 20-30 entries and mark them. Catherine discussed the marking criteria and also how the OUP archive all of the children’s stories, using them to notice trends and patterns including new words and how much the world around them affects what the children write about, for example the words of the year for the 2016 entries was ‘refugee’ and overwhelmingly in a positive context. Also, who knew that the ratio of happy stories was highest in Llandudno? (More amusing and interesting infographics are available <a href=http://global.oup.com/education/dictionaries/500-words/childrens-language/?region=uk>here</a>)

After a delicious lunch (including a sneaky two of the chocolatiest brownies ever) the final two speakers were Ra Page, from Comma Press and Jackie Ould from the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Education Trust. Ra gave a real insight into the drivers between big publishers and small time and independent publishing houses both in the difference their structure makes in affecting their publishing decisions, and a little with regards the implications of the rise of amazon in relation to its effect on the publishing market. His publishing house also produces a lot of translated works, including a book of ‘Refugee Tales’ I am definitely adding to my ‘to read’ list, and the first collection of Iranian science fiction stories. He also talked about the difference the form of the short story makes to the types of stories that are told.

Jackie presented a different aspect of fiction publishing based around her work with BME children in Manchester to produce and publish their own books retelling the stories of people they could relate to or admire, including Noor Inyat Khan and Olaudah Equiano, and celebrating black British history. To find out more about the trust’s work go here.

In all it was a very varied series of presentations and I enjoyed each one both for their content and the speakers who come from very different aspects and perspectives but all were passionate and enthusiastic about their subject. I had a terrific day and was so glad to have had the opportunity to attend.

Helen Kiely – Knowledge Services Assistant at Warrington & Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

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