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Virtual Reality Simulation Now Available at Falk Library

In a recent WPXI news story, Pitt medical student Angelica Escobar demonstrates how using virtual reality (VR) can be incorporated in medical training. In her scenario, she approaches a person found lying in the basement and has to decide her first response. Will she give them naloxone? Or call 911? “It makes something that is very scary, that can be very daunting, it makes it more approachable in a safe environment,” Escobar said.

This virtual reality program developed at the WISER Institute in conjunction with WyzLink technologies will be available at Falk Library, providing a new way to connect our Pitt health sciences community with simulations and applications utilizing cutting-edge VR technology. The library-based equipment includes Lenovo Explorer headsets connected to graphically enhanced computers running Windows Mixed Reality. Handheld controllers are used to navigate through the virtual scenario, such as walking through a room or selecting an object. In all scenarios, you can experience the immersive feeling just by wearing the headset and maneuvering the handheld controllers. Chairs are provided for those using the technology to provide a safer experience.

A teenage student wearing a virtual reality headset to study.Medical training experiences, like the one that Escobar demonstrates, will be the core offerings on the HSLS-based VR equipment, allowing for curriculum-integrated training. Other medical applications include 3D Organon VR Anatomy, an anatomy atlas, and MedicalHolodeck DICOM viewer for MRI and CT scans. Simple scenarios also are available for those who just want to explore what the virtual reality experience is like.

Interested in trying out the virtual reality equipment? Inquire at the Technology Help Desk on the upper floor of Falk Library. Your Pitt ID will be needed to access the equipment, and an online reservation system is pending.

~Julia Dahm

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New Retraction Watch Database Recently Launched

In August of 2010, two longtime health journalists, Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus, founded Retraction Watch, “a site dedicated to reporting on scientific retractions and related issues” to bring to light how many scientific papers are withdrawn yearly and why.

In their first post, they quoted the following from a 2008 paper in the Journal of Medical Ethics as support for why such a forum was needed:

“Although retractions are on average occurring sooner after publication than in the past, citation analysis shows that they are not being recognized by subsequent users of the work…More aggressive means of notification to the scientific community appear to be necessary.”

Oransky and Marcus also stated in their inaugural post: Continue reading

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PalPITTations to Perform in Falk Library on December 17

Celebrate the season by joining us for a holiday concert performed by the PalPITTations, an a capella vocal group of health sciences students from the University of Pittsburgh. The PalPITTations will perform on Monday, December 17, at 12:15 p.m., on the upper floor of Falk Library. Light refreshments will be served. All are welcome for this free concert!


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Read a Leisure Book over Winter Break

Leisure Reading @ HSLSOver winter break, curl up with a good book from the HSLS Leisure Reading Collection of newly-published fiction and nonfiction. The Leisure Reading Collection is located on the left as you enter main floor of Falk Library next to the comfortable seating area.

Several of the popular books in the leisure collection include:

  • Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou
  • Bear and the Nightingale: A Novel by Katherine Arden
  • Becoming by Michelle Obama
  • Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond (Winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction and this year’s One Book, One Community selection.)
  • Likewar: The Weaponization of Social Media by P.W. Singer
  • November Road by Lou Berney
  • The Fox by Frederick Forsythe
  • The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers by Maxwell King
  • The Library Book by Susan Orlean
  • The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
  • The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff
  • Under My Skin by Lisa Unger
  • Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver

You can easily browse the collection or use PITTCat or the Pitt Resources Quick Search box to locate specific titles. Multiple books may be borrowed for a three-week period. If a book you want to read is checked out to another person, place a hold on the book and you’ll be notified when it is returned. We welcome recommendations, send your suggestions to Ask a Librarian.

~Jill Foust

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Preprints Transform Most Papers into Immediate Open Access with Higher Citation Rates

Online preprint servers allow researchers to quickly disseminate work freely without compromising copyrights. While making new research easy to find, download, and cite, preprint servers also establish primacy and the versioning record.

Preprints qualify for this treatment because the manuscript has not yet been submitted to, accepted by, or revised in any way by a publisher, and the copyright is held by the author(s). Most, but not all, publishers now approve of preprint servers. To be certain that your planned journal permits preprint publication, check it using the SHERPA/ROMEO tool in advance!

Continue reading

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New Tool for Screening Deceptive Health Ads

We’ve all seen those pervasive health ads that pop up while browsing a newsfeed or shopping online. Some ads, known as clickbait, capture attention with sensational photos or headlines such as “Let’s eat clay!” Some declare quick fixes to treat acute and chronic conditions such as arthritis or diabetes. Still others instill fear or push conspiracy theories by claiming “doctors don’t want you to know this.” These ads may use positive or negative emotional appeal to entice some consumers to waste money on unproven remedies which lack scientific evidence, and are unlikely to provide health benefits. Additionally, use of untested approaches can lead to delays in seeking proper diagnosis and treatment, and cause serious harm or even death.

In response to online health-related scams, a team of interdisciplinary health professionals at the University of British Columbia created a simple tool to help consumers evaluate such ads for deception. The Risk of Deception Tool assigns a point value based on the number of persuading aspects in the ad, such as use of celebrity endorsement, pseudo-technical jargon, claims of product scarcity, or evidence of efficacy. A high overall point tally signifies a greater likelihood that the ad is fraudulent.

According to the study, the Risk of Deception Tool “appears to have some initial face validity in assisting in the assessment of suspect Internet health marketing.” It was developed with the intention of helping healthcare professionals “educate the public on how to assess the risk of healthcare products and services promoted through the Internet, and to improve public safety.” The Tool could also be considered for use as a classroom learning exercise for students in the health sciences, or as a health promotion activity for consumers attending health information fairs.

Internet Health Scams: Evaluating the Risk of Deception
Reprinted by permission of Bernie Garrett. UBC Internet Health Scams Study, 2018, (accessed November 8, 2018).

If you are searching for trustworthy, high quality web information, HSLS librarians can point you to strategies for evaluating the credibility of web resources. Contact us via HSLS Ask-a-Librarian for assistance.

~Rebecca Abromitis 

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Scientists as Artists Reprise Exhibit on Display Now through January 16

Scientists as Artists Reprise 2018

Scientists have to be disciplined to follow the rigors of research inquiry, experimentation, and investigation, as well as publishing requirements. Some thrive in the structured environment, while others may crave another outlet where they can practice freedom of expression. Since art can be a perfect counterbalance for the rigidity of their work, it comes as no surprise that many scientists choose to express themselves via artistic means.

Each year, Donna Stolz, associate professor of cell biology, and Jonathan Franks from the Center for Biologic Imaging (CBI), highlight the artistic side of research through Science as Art exhibits during the annual science and technology event at Pitt. For Science 2018, the curators re-envisioned the exhibit, inspired by Pitt structural biology researcher, Esra Bozkurt, who shared her idea to feature artwork of fellow Pitt scientists. They reached out to the University community, and the resulting exhibit presented works of 45 faculty and students from all Pitt schools of health sciences and various research departments.

HSLS is now hosting an encore of this exhibit in our rotating gallery space on the upper floor of Falk Library. We invited all artists to display their work at Falk Library for longer exposure to a wider University community. The positive response from the artists and the team at CBI prompted the Scientists as Artists Reprise exhibit, on display from December 3, 2018, through January 16, 2019, on Falk Library’s upper floor. More than 50 works including paintings, photography, sculpture, and more are on display. The bonus feature of the Scientists as Artists Reprise exhibit is that additional pieces, not seen prior at Science 2018, have been added. The exhibit is free and open to the public during regular library hours.

~Gosia Fort

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Data Catalog Collaboration Project Wins a Distinguished Award

HSLS Pitt Data Catalog, a project by the Health Sciences Library SystemHSLS, along with academic health sciences libraries at NYU Langone Health, Duke University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Hofstra University, University of Maryland at Baltimore, University of Virginia, and Wayne State University, participates in the Data Catalog Collaboration Project (DCCP). The DCCP recently received an award from the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Great Team Science Contest. “One of the goals of the CTSAs is to promote team science through establishing mechanisms by which biomedical researchers can collaborate, be trained in why team science is important, and develop evaluation measures to assess teamwork in biomedical research contexts.” “One hundred seventy applications were submitted, and the DCCP received the highest score for the Top Importance category.”

As a participant in the DCCP, HSLS developed the Pitt Data Catalog, a tool that provides Pitt researchers with an easy way to make their datasets discoverable as well as to identify other usable data.

Congratulations to the DCCP!

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Treasures from the Rare Book Room: Gautier D’Agoty and His Human Atlases, Part 2

Jacques-Fabien Gautier D’Agoty (1717-1785), the French anatomist and printmaker, produced his first color printed image of a shell in 1737. He started color printing by making reproductions of oil paintings, but soon turned to producing color-printed images for science. Between 1745 and 1785, he produced more than a dozen illustrated works on anatomy and physics. His cooperation with anatomist Joseph-Guichard Duverney resulted in the publication of three anatomy atlases. After the anatomist’s death, Gautier himself took over the anatomical dissections and demonstrations used for later works. He provided color plates for many periodicals. As a member of the Académie des Sciences, Arts et Belles-Lettres de Dijon, he used his scientific activity to promote his business. His entrepreneurial skills made his printing atelier into a successful family enterprise. He and all of his five sons were influential members of printing and artistic communities in Paris in the mid-18th century. Continue reading

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Falk Library Holiday and Winter Recess Hours

Over Pitt’s winter break, Falk Library will have modified hours:

  • Monday, December 17: 7 a.m.–10 p.m.
  • Tuesday, December 18: 7 a.m.–10 p.m.
  • Wednesday, December 19: 7 a.m.–10 p.m.
  • Thursday, December 20: 7 a.m.–10 p.m.
  • Friday, December 21: 7 a.m.–4 p.m.
  • Saturday, December 22, through Tuesday, January 1: CLOSED
  • Wednesday, January 2: 7 a.m.–10 p.m.
  • Thursday, January 3: 7 a.m.–10 p.m.
  • Friday, January 4: Resume regular hours

The Ask a Librarian e-mail service will be monitored over winter recess (December 22- January 1). Continue reading

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HSLS Staff News

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

All author and presenter names in bold are HSLS-affiliated


Kate Flewelling, NNLM MAR Executive Director, was elected Chair-Elect of the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Medical Library Association. Flewelling was also accepted to Pitt’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs to pursue the Master of Public Policy and Management.

Veronica Leigh Milliner, NNLM MAR All of Us Community Engagement Coordinator, was appointed to the Children and Technology Committee of the Association for Library Service to Children within the American Library Association for a two-year term. Continue reading

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Classes for December 2018

Introductory Hands-on Workshop: viSNE & SPADE, Monday, December 3, 9-11:30 a.m.

Infographics: Sharing Information Visually, Monday, December 3,
11 a.m.-12 p.m.

Basic EndNote, Tuesday, December 4, 9-10 a.m.

Advanced EndNote, Tuesday, December 4, 10:30-11:30 a.m.

Pathway Analysis, Wednesday, December 5, 1-4 p.m.

EndNote for Research Teams, Monday, December 10, 2-3 p.m.

You Do WHAT with Your Data?, Tuesday, December 11, 2-3 p.m.

RNA-Seq & CLC Genomics, Wednesday, December 12, 1-4 p.m.

Introduction to the Pitt Data Catalog, Thursday, December 13, 10-11 a.m.

Introductory Hands-on Workshop: viSNE & SPADE, Thursday, December 13, 2:30-5 p.m. Continue reading

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Research Reporting Guidelines: The EQUATOR Network

equator network logoHave you ever read a published account of a research study, and been frustrated because the authors left out important details? Or been unsure what you should include in your own writing? Unclear reporting of a study’s methodology or outcomes can be more than just annoying—it may impede dissemination of the study’s findings and, in the worst case, lead to bad patient care or waste of health care resources.

Reporting guidelines such as the CONSORT (Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials) Statement for reporting randomized controlled trials are designed to improve the transparency and replicability of published research studies. Since publication of the CONSORT Statement, numerous reporting guidelines have been developed for many types of research studies, ranging from animal pre-clinical studies to systematic reviews.

The EQUATOR (Enhancing the QUAlity and Transparency Of Health Research) Network is a group of individuals and organizations with a mutual interest in improving the quality of health research reports. The Network maintains an online collection of reporting guidelines and related materials, and also promotes the development and adoption of new reporting guidelines. Continue reading

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Inclusion of Pitt Data Catalog Datasets in Google’s New Dataset Search

Researchers across disciplines are sharing their data more and more, whether because of journal or funder mandates, or simply because they personally prefer the openness to increase discoverability and reuse of their data. This sharing has resulted in millions of datasets described or deposited in various locations across the web, including general or discipline-specific data repositories, publisher sites, data journals, authors’ home pages, or institutional data catalogs such as the Pitt Data Catalog (for more information see the catalog’s about page).

In early September 2018, Google launched a beta dataset search to enable users to find datasets, no matter their location, through a familiar interface and simple keyword search.

Because the Pitt Data Catalog uses structured data to describe the data included, records from the catalog are retrieved in Google’s search (as shown below), increasing the visibility of research and potentially the number of views and citations of associated publications.

Pitt Data Catalog record Eye movementsGoogle Dataset results showing Eye Movements

If you have datasets you would like to have described in the Pitt Data Catalog, please contact the HSLS Data Services team at or through our dataset inclusion form.

~Melissa Ratajeski