Wikipedia or HSLS Evidence-Based Resources?

We all use Wikipedia. It’s quick, easy and free! However, because the wiki model allows anyone to edit content, Wikipedia is sometimes just plain wrong. This is not a problem if you’re looking for song lyrics, but does become a concern when searching for accurate medical information.

Regardless, the use of Wikipedia as an accepted information resource is evident within the health science community. A recent survey reports “…nearly 50% of U.S. physicians who go online for professional purposes use Wikipedia for information, especially on specific conditions.”1 Since 2011, Wikipedia has been cited as a reference with increasing frequency in peer-reviewed health science papers.2 While Wikipedia has both champions and detractors, this fact remains: “[A]rticles relating to medicine are viewed more than 180 million times per month on Wikipedia, yet, less than 1 percent of these have passed a formal peer review…”3—the universally accepted process which ensures the quality of scientific research.

In response, over the last decade, WikiProject Medicine—a subgroup in Wikipedia—has been dedicated to improving the quality of medical information contained on the Web site. In addition to the 540+ Wikipedian volunteers, other collaborators in this effort include:

  • Medical students at the University of California San Francisco, who earn course credit for editing and adding citations to Wikipedia medical topics;4
  • The Cochrane Collaboration, which is sharing expertise to improve the evidence-base within Wikipedia medical articles.5

While WikiProject Medicine continues working towards their laudable goal of “…giving the general public and health care professionals a text they can all read, appreciate, and respect, free of charge,”6 Wikipedia—like any other encyclopedia—remains a tertiary information resource. For that reason, we encourage you to make use of the excellent HSLS resources specifically designed to help in your efforts to turn evidence into practice.

For example, you can access critically-appraised topics which evaluate and synthesize multiple research studies via Clinical Evidence or ACP Smart Medicine, or locate evaluations and synopses of individual research studies through EvidenceUpdates or ACP Journal Club. The gold-standard Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews supplies detailed, structured topic reviews with conclusions about the available evidence to inform health care decision-making. These and many other highly reliable resources are available via HSLS Evidence Based resources.

HSLS librarians can provide guidance in effective use of these information resources. To request assistance, please use Ask a Librarian.

~ Rebecca Abromitis

  1. M. Aitken, T. Altmann, D. Rosen, “Engaging Patients through Social Media: Is Healthcare Ready for Empowered and Digitally Demanding Patients?” IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics (January 2014): 17, accessed October 14, 2014,
  2. M.D. Bould, E.S. Hladkowicz, A.A. Pigford, L.A. Ufholz, T. Postonogova, E. Shin, S. Boet, “References That Anyone Can Edit: Review of Wikipedia Citations in Peer Reviewed Health Science Literature,” BMJ  (March 6, 2014): 348:g1585, accessed October 10, 2014,
  3. “The Cochrane Collaboration. Evidence for Everyone, Everywhere,” accessed October 12, 2014,
  4. Juliana Bunim, “UCSF First U.S. Medical School to Offer Credit for Wikipedia Articles,” San Francisco, CA, accessed October 12, 2014,
  5. “The Cochrane Collaboration. Evidence for Everyone, Everywhere,”
  6. “Wikipedia: WikiProject Medicine” 2014, accessed October 10, 2014,

NN/LM MAR Offers Evidence-Based Practice Training to Rural Hospitals

Kate Flewelling

In August, the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Middle Atlantic Region (NN/LM MAR) collaborated with the Center for Rural Health Practice at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford to provide training on evidence-based practice to nurses at Bradford Regional Medical Center, a rural community hospital. Home to Zippo lighters and bordered by the Allegheny National Forest, Bradford is located in northwest Pennsylvania and has a population of approximately 8,300 people.

NN/LM MAR Outreach Coordinator Kate Flewelling traveled to Bradford, about three hours north of Pittsburgh, to provide the training.

Topics covered included:

  • Ways that evidence-based nursing can be integrated into clinical practice;
  • Types of studies and how they relate to levels of evidence;
  • Well-built, answerable questions to support clinical practice;
  • Online tools for finding evidence-based research, such as PubMed, PubMed Health, and the National Guideline Clearinghouse;
  • Literature searches to find relevant evidence.

Participants received CNE credit from UPMC’s Center for Continuing Education in the Health Sciences.

A 2010 report from the Institute of Medicine entitled, “The Future of Nursing,” argued for increased training for nurses in a number of competencies including research and evidence-based practice. For health professionals who do not have access to a medical library and for those in rural areas, accessing such training and finding reliable health information to support their practice can be a challenge. NN/LM MAR assists health professionals by providing training on free online tools to support evidence-based practice.

Nearly all participants in the training at Bradford Regional Medical Center reported learning about new resources in the training, and all anticipated using their new skills in the next month. Expected outcomes of the training included: “Improved quality of care”; “This is a great help since I want to provide the most up to date information to my staff. Thank you for your insight!”; and “When I get a clinical question from someone I will know how to find evidence-based answers.”

The article, “Center for Rural Health Practice Provides Training for Area Health Providers,” which appeared in October 14, 2014 issue of Bradford Today provides further insight into this valuable training workshop.

NN/LM MAR and the Center for Rural Health Practice will continue to offer such trainings in the area, with the next one scheduled in January 2015 at Cole Memorial Hospital in Coudersport, Pennsylvania.

For more information about MAR programs and activities, e-mail or call 800-338-7657.

~ Kate Flewelling

Data Journals: A New Way to Share Research Data

How do you share your data? If your answer only includes publishing results in a journal article or presenting results at a conference, think again! Consider that a journal article or conference presentation is composed of two parts: 1) the interpretation of data collected, in the form of the text, and 2) the supporting evidence, i.e., the data. These two parts are increasingly recognized as independently citable. In keeping with the University of Pittsburgh’s Guidelines on Data Management and policies from funding agencies such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the underlying data developed with research awards should also be shared.

One response to this dichotomy has been the appearance of a new type of journal: the data journal. Data journals feature standardized descriptions and links to peer-reviewed datasets and supporting tools. Authors use a template to easily create the description during the submission process. This new publication type has been designated “Data Descriptor” by Nature Publishing. The published data descriptor is often, but not necessarily, associated with a separate journal article. Each publication type generates its own citations.

Data journals have the potential to improve dissemination and discoverability over data repositories because these journals 1) may be indexed in MEDLINE, EMBASE and other important biomedical databases, and 2) after established, could receive an impact factor from Journal Citation Reports.

While data journals promote and facilitate the reuse of datasets by publishing detailed and accurate descriptions, they do not usually host data themselves, but use links to data repositories, eliminating conflicts with funder, institutional, or publisher repository requirements.

Benefits of publishing research data separately include:

  1. Increased data citations
  2. Validation of data
  3. Data preservation services
  4. Reusable data for additional research
  5. Reusable data for teaching
  6. New collaborations

Find out more about each of these current data journals:

For more information about data sharing, see Data Management Planning: Data Sharing in the September 2013 issue of the HSLS Update.

~Andrea Ketchum

What’s Up with UpToDate?

UpToDate is dedicated to providing valid and reliable evidence-based medical information for clinical decision making. This is achieved through continuous publishing and graded recommendations.

Continuous Publishing

It’s not called UpToDate for nothing! UpToDate publishes every business day. The authors and editors scan over 450 medical journals, specialty guidelines, clinical databases, and clinical trials for the most important new medical findings. Here are just a few notable statistics about UpToDate:

  • In July 2014, 953 updates were published and 37 new topics were added;
  • In the first half of 2014, 6,419 updates were published and 109 new topics were added;
  • 192 updates from the second quarter of 2014 are featured in “What’s New”—a small number of the most important updates chosen by UpToDate’s editors (see image below);

UpToDate Whats New

  • UpToDate received 1,537 feedback items for its editors, causing changes to over 500 topics in the first half of 2014.

Every time a topic is reviewed and updated, the date appears directly below the author’s name. Also, references to the literature are listed at the bottom of each topic page.

Graded Recommendations

UpToDate is now using the GRADE approach to classify both the strength of recommendation and the quality of the underlying information. There are now 9,500 graded recommendations, and the process is ongoing. To view a topic’s graded recommendations, simply click on the “Summary and Recommendations” button at the top of the outline (see image below).

UpToDate Topic Outline

Grades have two components: a number (1 or 2) that reflects the strength of the recommendation and a letter (A, B, or C) that reflects the quality of the evidence supporting that recommendation (see image below).

UpToDate Summary Recommendations

For more information on UpToDate’s GRADE system, please direct your browser to the UpToDate interactive tutorial on grading.

*Parts of this article were reprinted from the UpToDate E-mail Expert User Series: “Continuous Publishing” and “Graded Recommendations.”

~ Jill Foust

HSLS Staff News

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


Donna Perkins has joined the Falk Library staff as a main desk assistant.


Melissa Ratajeski, reference librarian, along with co-authors Ahlam Saleh1 and M. Bertolet2, published, “Grey Literature Searching for Health Sciences Systematic Reviews: A Prospective Study of Time Spent and Resources Utilized,” in Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, Vol. 9, No. 3 (2014): 28-50.

1. Arizona Health Sciences Library, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ.

2. Department of Epidemiology, Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA.


Lydia Collins, consumer health coordinator, NN/LM Middle Atlantic Region, along with Ellen Justice1, presented “Health Information Resources for Cancer Awareness,” at the University of Delaware Library Cancer Awareness Program, in Newark, DE, on October 9, 2014. Collins also presented “More Than a Bandage: Health Information Resources for K-12 Professionals,” on October 13, 2014, at the Berks County School Health Association in Wyomissing, PA; “Evaluating Online Health Information Resources,” on October 24, 2014, at the annual meeting of the Pennsylvania Library Association Southwest Chapter in Greensburg, PA; and “Introduction to Your Regional Medical Library & NLM Resources,” on October 30, 2014, at the 2014 Bronx County Centennial Symposium on Health in New York, NY.

1. Community Health Librarian, Junior Board Cancer Resource Library, Helen F. Graham Cancer Center, Newark, DE.

Barbara Epstein, HSLS director, was a participant in a panel discussion at the University of Pittsburgh 2014 Fall Senate Plenary, “Managing Research Data: Challenges & Opportunities,” held in Pittsburgh, PA, on October 23, 2014. The panel responded to the keynote address, “Gearing Up for Date? Institutional Drivers, Challenges and Opportunities.”

Kate Flewelling, outreach coordinator, NN/LM Middle Atlantic Region, presented, “Public Libraries as Public Health Partners,” to the joint conference of Pennsylvania Public Health Association and Office of Rural Health in State College, PA, on October 2, 2014.

Classes November 2014

HSLS offers classes on database searching, software applications such as Prezi, 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, who will need a valid Pitt ID or e-mail account. They are also open to UPMC residents and fellows, who will need to show their UPMC IDs.

No registration is required, except where noted. 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.)

Advanced PowerPoint for Presentations (Falk Library Classroom 2)

Tuesday, November 11 12:30-2:30 p.m.

EndNote Basics (Falk Library Classroom 2)

Thursday, November 13 10 a.m.-noon

Painless PubMed* (Falk Library Classroom 1)

Friday, November 7 9-10 a.m.
Tuesday, November 11 4-5 p.m.
Wednesday, November 19 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Prezi for Presentations (Falk Library Classroom 2)

Monday, November 17 9:30-11:30 a.m.


Pathway Analysis Tools 1* (Falk Library Classroom 2)

Wednesday, November 5 1-3 p.m.

Pathway Analysis Tools 2* (Falk Library Classroom 2)

Wednesday, November 12 1-3 p.m.

SNPs & Genetic Variation* (Falk Library Classroom 2)

Wednesday, November 19 1-3 p.m.


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