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 https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CMQZ9XJ. 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 (http://jasonpriem.org/2012/05/toward-a-second-revolution-altmetrics-total-impact-and-the-decoupled-journal-video/).

2. Garfield E, “The History and Meaning of the Journal Impact Factor,” JAMA 295, no. 1 (2006 Jan 4): 90-3, http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=202114.

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). http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/policydocs/pappguide/nsf13001/gpg_sigchanges.jsp

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

HSLS Staff News

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


Pat Weiss, reference and information technology librarian, was appointed faculty representative to the University of Pittsburgh Board of Trustees’ Property and Facilities Committee for 2013-14.


Jonathon Erlen, history of medicine librarian, along with co-author Jay Toth, published “American Indian Dissertation Abstracts,” in Indigenous Policy Journal 24, no. 2 (2013).


Renae Barger, executive director, NN/LM Middle Atlantic Region, and Kate Flewelling, outreach coordinator, NN/LM Middle Atlantic Region, presented a lecture, “Partners in Information Access for the Public Health Workforce: A Resource for Evidence-based Practice,” on October 16, 2013, at the Pennsylvania Public Health Association and Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health Annual Conference, in Harrisburg, PA.

Michelle Burda, network and advocacy coordinator, NN/LM Middle Atlantic Region, presented two lectures, “Meeting the Challenge of Change,” on October 14, 2013, at the MLA Mid-Atlantic Chapter Annual Meeting, in Pittsburgh, PA, and “Health Literacy: Its Importance to You and Healthcare Professionals,” on October 17, 2013, at the Upstate New York and Ontario Chapter MLA, in Fairport, NY.

Lydia Collins, consumer health coordinator, NN/LM Middle Atlantic Region, presented several lectures, “Supporting a Healthy Community,” on October 22, 2013, at the Pennsylvania Library Association Annual Conference, in Seven Springs, PA; “Introduction to the National Library of Medicine’s Toy Box,” on October 15, 2013, and “National Library of Medicine: Environmental Health and Genetics Resources at Your Fingertips,” on October 16, 2013, at the New Jersey Science Convention, in Princeton, NJ; “MedlinePlus and Affordable Care Act Resources for Delaware,” on October 3, 2013, at the Delaware Division of Libraries, Dover Public Library, in Dover, DE; and “MedlinePlus and Affordable Care Act Resources for Pennsylvania,” on October 1, 2013, at the Delaware County Library System, in Media, PA.

Charlie Wessel, head of research and reference initiatives, provided a systematic review update to National Institutes of Health informationists and librarians on September 25, 2013, at the NIH Library, Bethesda MD.

Classes November 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.)


Adobe Photoshop (Falk Library Classroom 2)

Tuesday, November 19 12:30-2:30 p.m.

Advanced PowerPoint for Presentations (Falk Library Classroom 2)

Tuesday, November 12 12:30-2:30 p.m.

Data Sharing and Discovery: Why and How (102 Benedum Hall)

Registration required

Wednesday, November 20 Noon-1 p.m.

EndNote Basics (Falk Library Classroom 2)

Monday, November 18 4-6 p.m.

Focus on Behavioral Medicine: Searching in PsycINFO* (Falk Library Classroom 1)

Wednesday, November 6 9-10:30 a.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)

Friday, November 8 10-11 a.m.
Tuesday, November 12 3:30-4:30 p.m.
Wednesday, November 20 9-10 a.m.

PowerPoint for Conference Posters (Falk Library Classroom 2)

Tuesday, November 5 12:30-2:30 p.m.


SNPs & Genetic Variation* (Falk Library Classroom 2)

Wednesday, November 6 1-3 p.m.

Primer Design & Restriction Analysis* (Falk Library Classroom 2)

Wednesday, November 13 1-3 p.m.

Introduction to CLC Main Workbench* (Falk Library Classroom 2)

Wednesday, November 20 1-3 p.m.


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