PalPITTations Holiday Concert in Falk Library

PalPittationsThe PalPITTations will perform a concert of holiday favorites on Tuesday, December 10, at 12:30 p.m., on the upper floor of Falk Library. The PalPITTations are the a capella vocal group of health sciences students from the University of Pittsburgh. Light refreshments will be served. All are welcome for this free concert.

Director’s Reflections…Coming in 2014: More E-Books, Less Print

Barbara EpsteinYou may have noticed that HSLS has reduced its purchases of print materials over the past several years. In fact, we no longer subscribe to any scholarly journals in print! All of our journals are electronic. And we know that users appreciate the ability to read articles anywhere, anytime.

Transition from print to electronic books has been a much longer process. Our book collection has traditionally received less use than our journals; this is generally true of health sciences libraries. Scholarly publishers have been slower to convert to electronic book publishing, and there can be a significant delay after a book is published in print before an electronic copy is available. Pricing and access models for e-books can also be problematic. Instead of licensing content for unlimited institutional use as we do with e-journals, e-books are often made available in the traditional library mode: one user per “copy” of the title. Continue reading

Do Nursing Students Need Instruction in Both CINAHL and MEDLINE?

Instruction by health sciences librarians in the use of both MEDLINE and CINAHL databases has long been a mainstay of the undergraduate nursing curriculum. This meant the health sciences librarian was faced with the task of teaching students the use of two different databases with dramatically different search screens, often in a one class session. This dilemma led to a discussion within HSLS about the necessity of teaching nursing students the use of both databases. That is, we wondered if the nursing content of CINAHL and MEDLINE was so different that nursing students should routinely be taught how to use each? Or was it possible that instruction in MEDLINE alone (via PubMed) would enable students to find the evidence-based nursing resources required for their homework assignments?

To begin to explore this issue, we compared the current nursing journal coverage in CINAHL to that of MEDLINE, to determine the number and types of academic nursing journals available exclusively through CINAHL.

In the fall of 2010, HSLS requested from an EBSCO CINAHL representative a list of academic nursing journal titles indexed in CINAHL, but not in MEDLINE. We received a list of 460 titles. The file included the journal’s document type, such as academic journal, magazine, or trade publication. Of the 460 nursing titles reportedly exclusive to CINAHL, we determined 195 titles were labeled as academic journals by EBSCO CINAHL and the other 265 titles were a mix of magazine or trade publications. The 195 academic nursing journal titles were then reviewed, using the publications listing in CINAHL, to determine indexing coverage as well as journal and content type.

Of the 195 academic journal titles reportedly exclusive to CINAHL, 6 were currently indexed in MEDLINE, leaving 189 journals to be analyzed. Of these 189 journals, we found 88 titles that were either not currently indexed in CINAHL (83), indexed selectively (1)—meaning only some of the articles in a journal are nursing-specific and indexed, or never indexed in CINAHL (4). Of those not currently indexed, the indexing was for varying periods of time, including 6 journals indexed for one year or less and one for as little as one issue. The remaining 101 titles were currently indexed in CINAHL. Of these, 8 were newsletters, 5 magazines, 3 journals describing nursing student projects, and 18 were non-English titles that would be of little use to nursing students, as they would be titles not held by HSLS. Excluding these 34 titles, only 67 of the academic nursing journal titles unique to CINAHL warranted further evaluation. (See supporting data for a list of the 67 titles and a flow chart of the results.)

Examination of these 67 journals indicated that many of them tended to contain a mix of news articles, updates to the nursing profession, and some peer reviewed articles. The latter were typically review articles rather than the original research articles commonly required for nursing student homework assignments. The few journals containing original research articles tended to have a very narrow focus.  For example, one published only articles based on a single nursing theory (the science of unitary human beings).

There are additional factors to take into consideration when making decisions about which database(s) to use for teaching. One such factor is the controlled vocabulary used in CINAHL, which reflects nursing practices and interests not well represented in the subject headings used in MEDLINE. For example, in CINAHL, in addition to the global subject heading “patients,” there is an extensive set of narrower headings defining specific patient populations such as crime victims, homeless persons, and runaways. In contrast, MEDLINE’s controlled vocabulary provides only the subject heading “patient.” Research projects such as systematic reviews or meta-analyses require exhaustive searches for published literature on a topic, and so may benefit from inclusion of CINAHL in the larger set of information resources to be searched. On a related note, there may also be specific topics or projects for which the many magazine and trade publications in CINAHL would be useful. And, finally, CINAHL contains allied health journal content, as well as nursing journal content. This study did not include an analysis of the allied health journal content.

Overall, the study results suggested that a number of academic nursing titles indexed CINAHL were also indexed in MEDLINE and that the number of academic nursing journals unique to CINAHL was small. On the basis of these results, HSLS librarians currently teach undergraduate nursing students the basics of searching PubMed only. Nursing faculty have the option of requesting instruction in the use of CINAHL but, to date, no such requests have been received.

*Supporting data can be found at

~ Nancy Tannery and Mary Lou Klem

HSLS Collaboration to Improve the Outcomes of Infectious Diseases

Community-spread Staphylococcus infections, the overuse of antibiotics, and other microbial threats to health all make the topic of infectious diseases (ID) important both nationally and globally. One organization promulgating practice guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of these conditions is the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) located in Arlington, Virginia.

Recently, IDSA selected HSLS for literature search assistance to meet the ever increasing standards in guideline development [IOM, GRADE, PRISMA] and to ensure a comprehensive systematic search for the evidence to support each of their guidelines.

Two HSLS librarians, Charlie Wessel and Michele Klein-Fedyshin, work closely with IDSA and their guideline panels to design the search strategies, conduct the literature searches that reinforce their guidelines’ recommendations, and deliver search results to panel committee members throughout North America.

During a recent meeting with the IDSA Standards and Practice Guidelines staff in Arlington, Klein-Fedyshin and Wessel developed several documents to enhance the efficiency of the literature review process for guideline development. IDSA, along with both librarians’ input, formulated a Literature Search Process algorithm, while the librarians also contributed a Guideline Elements Form and a PICO Elements Form to help define the guideline and individual associated clinical questions in a format suitable for searching. This mutually beneficial collaboration is an ongoing project demonstrating how an interdisciplinary team involving medical librarians can advance knowledge translation.

~ Michele Klein-Fedyshin and Charlie Wessel

Treasures from the Rare Book Room: Girolamo Fracastoro’s Poem on Syphilis

FracastoroSyphilis ou le mal vénérien: Poeme Latin de Jerome Fracastor avec la traduction en François & des notes [Syphilis, or the venereal disease: the Latin poem of Girolamo Fracastoro with French translation & notes]. Paris, 1753

Girolamo Fracastoro (1478-1553) was a Venetian nobleman educated at Padua University. Although medicine was his true passion, he was also a poet, humanist, and scientist; and his many interests included astronomy, mathematics, physics, botany, geology, and geography. He counted Copernicus, the Renaissance mathematician and astronomer, among his friends.

As a physician, Fracastoro is considered one of the founding fathers of modern medicine. He discovered that microorganisms were able to transmit infection and proposed a scientific hypothesis on tiny particles or “spores” 300 years before the empirical formulation of germ theory was developed by Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch.
Continue reading

Why is Searching PubMed in Late Autumn Different than Any Other Time of the Year?

PubMedReloadThe answer is simple and yet complex.

From mid-November to mid-December, the National Library of Medicine (NLM) does year-end-processing. During this time, extensive maintenance is done on MEDLINE. MEDLINE is the NLM database of biomedical journal citations and is the primary component of PubMed.

Daily “routine maintenance” on MEDLINE happens throughout the year and includes a variety of edits to MEDLINE citations. These edits include corrections of misspellings; the addition of published errata, retractions, and comments (including author replies); changes to journal titles and their abbreviations; changes to supplementary concepts such as chemicals, protocols, and diseases; and adjustments to MeSH (Medical Subject Headings).

The primary purpose of year-end maintenance is to update MeSH. Each year, new MeSH headings are added, other headings are replaced with more up-to-date terminology, and out-dated headings are deleted with no replacement. From mid-November to mid-December, NLM applies these MeSH heading changes to MEDLINE citations where necessary.

Things you should know when searching PubMed during the year-end-processing period:

  • All regular routine corrections to MEDLINE are on hold. MEDLINE corrections will appear when the update is complete.
  • “In process” citations (Figure 1) will continue to be added to PubMed. In-process citations do not have medical subject headings assigned to them, but they have undergone quality control review. As a result, the number of PubMed records labeled “in process” will temporarily increase, and the number of MEDLINE records will stay the same.

    Figure 1
    Figure 1
  • If you use a PubMed filter (human, review, etc.) or a MeSH heading in a search, you may not see any new MEDLINE citations until year-end-processing is complete in mid-December.

Things you should know when searching PubMed after the year-end-processing period:

  • By mid-December when year-end-processing is complete, “in process” MEDLINE citations will have 2014 medical subject headings assigned to them and these citations are then noted in PubMed as “indexed for MEDLINE” (Figure 2). Searches, including, “My NCBI” stored searches, containing these MeSH headings will automatically retrieve all applicable MEDLINE records.

    Figure 2
    Figure 2
  • You can scan the 2014 New MeSH descriptors to identify the MeSH headings that apply to your clinical and research interests.


  • You may want to check your saved My NCBI searches to make sure they reflect the 2014 MeSH headings.

For more information, send an e-mail to Ask a Librarian or call the HSLS Main Desk at 412-648-8866.

~ Charlie Wessel

HSLS Staff News

The HSLS Staff News section includes recent HSLS presentations, publications, staff changes, staff promotions, degrees earned, etc.


Michele Klein-Fedyshin, reference librarian, published “American Nursing Credentialing Center (ANCC) Magnet Conference Liaison Report October 2-4, 2013,” in National Network, 38(2): 8-9, November 2013.


Kate Flewelling, outreach coordinator, NN/LM Middle Atlantic Region, presented two lectures, “PubMed and Beyond: Clinical Resources from the National Library of Medicine,” at the Fulton County Medical Center, McConnellsburg, PA, on November 12, 2013, and “Online Resources to Support Mental Health: Information for Clinicians and Patients,” at the Commonwealth Medical College, Scranton, PA, on November 16, 2013.

Barb Folb, public health informationist, taught “Systematic Reviews: Skills to Develop Literature Searches, Manage Results, and Evaluate Findings” at the American Public Health Association annual meeting, Boston, MA, on November 2, 2013. Co-instructors were Joey Nicholson1 and Helen VonVille2.

1. Education and curriculum librarian, Langone Medical Center Library, New York University.

2. Director, School of Public Health, University of Texas.

Classes December 2013

HSLS offers classes on database searching, software applications such as Adobe Photoshop, bibliographic management, molecular biology and genetics, and library orientations. For more information, visit the online course descriptions.

Classes are held on the first floor of Falk Library (200 Scaife Hall) in Classroom 1 and on the upper floor of the library in Classroom 2. All classes are open to faculty, staff, and students of the schools of the health sciences at the University of Pittsburgh. They are also open to UPMC residents and fellows.

No registration is required for any of these classes. Seating for classes is first-come, first-served, until the class is full. Faculty, staff and students of the schools of the health sciences will need a valid Pitt ID or e-mail account to attend these classes. UPMC residents/fellows will need to show their UPMC IDs.

Classes marked with an asterisk (*) qualify for American Medical Association Category 2 continuing education credit.

Class schedules are subject to change. Please consult the online class calendar for the most current information.


FlashClass is a “deal of the week” Groupon-like offer of timely and useful learning. Each week’s offer proposes one or two topics, and you’re invited to sign up to attend a one-hour class the following week. If at least three people sign up, we’ll hold the class. (We’ll notify you either way.)


EndNote Basics (Falk Library Classroom 2)

Friday, December 13 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Introduction to HSLS Resources and Services at Falk Library
(Meet inside entrance to Library)
Offered upon request to groups or individuals. Call 412-648-8866.

Painless PubMed* (Falk Library Classroom 1)

Monday, December 2 4-5 p.m.
Thursday, December 12 Noon-1 p.m.


Pathway Analysis Tools 1* (Falk Library Classroom 2)

Wednesday, December 4 1-3 p.m.

Pathway Analysis Tools 2* (Falk Library Classroom 2)

Wednesday, December 11 1-3 p.m.


Customized classes can be developed for your department, course, or other group.

What Do You Think?

The library newsletter, HSLS Update, has been published since January 1998 with the purpose of keeping you informed about library resources and services. Over the past few years, the format has changed from a static newsletter to a blog. Last spring, the HSLS Update began to be published monthly to provide timelier news. Now we’d like to know what you think.

Please take a moment to answer this brief three question survey at The survey will close Friday, November 22, 2013. Continue reading

From Impact Factor to Altmetrics: How Did We Get Here? What Does It Mean?

Since the first scientific journal in 1665, the connection between article and journal has been unbreakable, bound by the printing press, but with access limited by delivery methods and geography. The print format was the quality filter: articles published in highly coveted journals had a greater chance of being read and cited. Three hundred and fifty years later, the article has been largely decoupled from the journal.1 Instead of browsing physical journals, we discover articles by searching online databases, like PubMed, where we can find articles based on their own merits. The journal impact factor was developed in the 1960s to identify journals with significant proportions of highly cited articles,2 but in the digital age our guides to content have expanded.

Enter alternative metrics or altmetrics, a complement to the impact factor. While the impact factor is derived from the long-term aggregate of a journal’s citation statistics, altmetrics provide immediate feedback to specific articles. Publisher PLoS calls these “article-level metrics” and displays them with each article published. Typically, altmetrics measure how many times an article has been viewed or downloaded to reference software, such as Mendeley, as well as linked to from other scholarly products such as blogs and social media (Twitter; Facebook), videos (YouTube), presentations (SlideShare), repositories (D-Scholarship@Pitt; PMC (PubMed Central)), and datasets (Dryad; GEO). The National Science Foundation (NSF) now requests that products other than publications be included in a grantee’s biosketch, indicating widening recognition.3 New digital tools made these contributions to scholarship possible, just as the printing press made the first scholarly journals possible.

Use altmetrics to promote and better disseminate your work and to discover collaborators. Monitor global discussion, citations, downloads, and more via Mendeley, PubMed, SlideShare, Facebook, blogs, and other outlets.

Leading altmetrics products include: Altmetric, providing analysis of single articles; ImpactStory, analyzing the output of individual researchers; and Plum Analytics, extending analysis to the institutional level by partnering with Pitt. Publishers PLoS, Nature, BMC, Scopus, and others present altmetrics with individual articles.

Learn more about altmetrics from the Impact Metrics section of the HSLS Scholarly Communication LibGuide. Also see the Altmetrics Manifesto by Jason Priem and The PLoS Altmetrics Collection (2012).

~Andrea Ketchum

1. “Toward a Second Revolution: Altmetrics, Total-Impact, and the Decoupled Journal,” Jason Priem/blog, video, 2012 (

2. Garfield E, “The History and Meaning of the Journal Impact Factor,” JAMA 295, no. 1 (2006 Jan 4): 90-3,

3. NSF 13-1 January 2013: GPG Summary of Changes. Significant Changes to Implement the Recommendations of the National Science Board’s Report entitled, “National Science Foundation’s Merit Review Criteria: Review and Revisions,” Chapter II.C.2.f(i)(c), Biographical Sketch(es).

Data Management Planning: Privacy and Ethical Issues

If you are a biomedical researcher, then you are well aware that funding agencies and publishers have guidelines for ensuring the privacy and ethical treatment of animal and human subjects. Any research institution that accepts federal funding is legally required to have policies in place to oversee its research programs. These policies include monitoring conflicts of interest, reporting misconduct, ensuring adherence to safety regulations, and maintaining committees that review animal and human research protocols.

The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) oversees the appropriate care and humane treatment of animals being used for research, testing, and education. The purpose of the Institutional Review Board (IRB) is to protect the rights and welfare of individuals participating as subjects in the research process.

In the context of data management, the IRB has three roles:

  • Reviews data management plans to examine feasibility (cost, infrastructure, staffing).
  • Reviews data collection forms to limit the amount of personal identifiable information being collected.
  • Reviews research protocols to determine how data will be safeguarded.

The rules about safeguarding include consideration of who will have access to the data technically, physically, and administratively, as well as for what purpose. These are occasionally called the privacy or confidentiality rules. However, the University of Pittsburgh IRB makes an important distinction between the two terms:

  • “Privacy” refers to the individual’s right to control access to themselves, including personal information and biological specimens.
  • “Confidentiality” refers to how an individual’s private information will be protected from release by the researcher, which is an important element of the consent process.

At the federal level, health data are protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Information about the University of Pittsburgh’s HIPAA policies and procedures with regard to research may be found on Pitt’s Institutional Review Board’s Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Web site, including sample protocols and consent forms.

If you are submitting a grant to either the National Institutes of Health or the National Science Foundation, be sure to review their guidelines on human subjects and privacy issues before creating your data management plan. If you have additional questions, refer to the University of Pittsburgh’s IACUC and IRB Web sites.

For previous articles on Data Management published in the HSLS Update, see:

~ Carrie Iwema

Health Information Access in Community College Libraries

Missy Harvey

Missy Harvey, academic liaison for the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Middle Atlantic Region (NN/LM MAR), has worked in academic libraries for 30 years and is familiar with the challenges faced in college and university libraries.

In 2012, NN/LM identified the need to enhance outreach to community college librarians. These librarians serve an important role in the training and development of students in the allied health professions. A nationwide task force was created. Continue reading

MLA Mid-Atlantic Chapter Annual Meeting Held in Pittsburgh

macmla2013logoThe Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Medical Library Association held its annual meeting in Pittsburgh on October 13-15, 2013. Many HSLS librarians participated in the conference.

Committee Participation

Debbie Downey, Linda Hartman, Andrea Ketchum, Melissa Ratajeski, and Ester Saghafi were members of the Hospitality Committee.

Melissa Ratajeski chaired the Poster Committee.

Nancy Tannery co-chaired the meeting.

Charlie Wessel chaired the Keynote/Invited Speakers Committee and co-chaired the Hospitality Committee.

Contributed Paper

Carrie Iwema presented “Dealing with Data: Surveying Researchers to Understand Their Data Management Practices.” Co-authors were Andrea M. Ketchum and Melissa A. Ratajeski.

Poster Presentations

Julia C. Jankovic presented “On the Go: Usage of a Library’s Mobile Resources Web Page.” Co-author was Melissa Ratajeski.

Andrea M. Ketchum presented “A Renaissance of Resources Used for Clinical Searching: What’s the Impact of the NIH Public Access Policy and Open Access on Morning Report?” Co-author was Michele Klein–Fedyshin.

Charlie Wessel presented “A Clinical Information Tool for Community Health Centers: A Feasibility Study Funded by the National Library of Medicine with the University of Pittsburgh.” Co-author was John LaDue.

Other Conference Activities

Melissa Ratajeski and MAC Chair Stephanie Warlick
Melissa Ratajeski and MAC Chair Stephanie Warlick

Linda Hartman was awarded a MAC Research Grant for her project, “Barriers to Searching the Literature.”

Carrie Iwema taught the continuing education course, “Personal Genomics, Personalized Medicine, & You.”

Melissa Ratajeski was awarded the MAC Award for Professional Excellence by a New Health Sciences Librarian.

~ Jill Foust