Using Wikipedia Responsibly for Health Information and Research

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Overall, analyses of Wikipedia’s biomedical content have found that it is generally of moderate to high quality but imperfect, with content gaps, a lack of depth, and sometimes errors. There is a strict set of guidelines for citing biomedical information, but individuals’ implementation of these guidelines can vary. Volunteer editors are constantly working to improve Wikipedia’s health articles to make them more accurate, readable, and complete. However, it is unlikely that Wikipedia will become a perfect health information resource anytime soon.

Despite these challenges, Wikipedia is one of the most frequently used health information resources in the world. Over 90% of medical students have reported using Wikipedia in their studies and 50-70% of physicians have reported using Wikipedia when providing care. It is often used as a starting point for background information and research. Wikipedia is even increasingly being used in instruction, as editing articles allows students to practice research skills while contributing to freely available health information accessed by millions of users each year.

Anyone who uses Wikipedia for health information—whether they’re a clinician, professor, student, or layperson—should be familiar with some simple techniques to evaluate the quality of an article. Continue reading

PubMed Central Article Datasets are Now Available in the Cloud

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) recently announced that two PubMed Central article datasets are openly available in the cloud. This news is especially of interest for those conducting research utilizing text mining methodology or other types of secondary analysis.

PubMed Central (PMC) is a free full-text archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature from the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine (NIH/NLM). For nearly two decades NLM has supported the retrieval and download of machine-readable open access journal articles through the PMC Open Archives Initiative (PMC-OAI) and FTP (file transfer protocol). To enhance access, these datasets are now also available on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Registry of Open Data as part of AWS’s Open Data Sponsorship Program (ODP). Benefits to working with the datasets in the cloud include access to uncompressed individual full-text article files in XML and plain text as well as faster download and transfer speeds.

In summary, PMC Article Datasets housed on AWS include:

  • The PMC Open Access (OA) Subset: includes all articles and preprints in PMC with a machine-readable Creative Commons license that allows reuse (to date more than 3.4 million).
  • The Author Manuscript Dataset: includes accepted author manuscripts collected under a funder policy in PMC and made available in machine-readable formats for text mining (to date more than 700,000).

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Indulge in a Good Book over Winter Break

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Take a break from staring at your computer screen. For a nice change, try reading a traditional book over winter break! The HSLS Leisure Reading Collection has a few hundred newly published fiction and nonfiction books. The Collection is located on the main floor of Falk Library.

Popular books in the Leisure Reading Collection include:

  • 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson
  • Becoming by Michelle Obama
  • Deacon King Kong by James McBride
  • Fifty Words for Rain: A Novel by Asha Lemmie
  • The Institute: A Novel by Stephen King
  • The Last Thing He Told Me: A Novel by Laura Dave
  • Legacy by Nora Roberts
  • Our Woman in Moscow: A Novel by Beatriz Williams
  • A Time for Mercy by John Grisham

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Falk Library Holiday and Winter Recess Hours

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

  • Monday, December 20 through Monday, January 3: CLOSED
  • Tuesday, January 4: Resume Regular Hours

Ask a Librarian questions received over winter recess will be monitored periodically.

Best wishes for a happy, healthy, and restful holiday season!

Featured Workshop: OSF for Project Management, Documentation, and Data Sharing

HSLS classes continue well into December as we wrap up our 2021 schedule of topics such as data management, bioinformatics software, visual design, and more! Sign up to receive the weekly Upcoming HSLS Classes and Workshops email.

Featured workshop of the month: OSF for Project Management, Documentation, and Data Sharing

Thursday, December 9, 2021, 1–2:30 p.m.

Register for this virtual workshop*

Open Science Framework (OSF) is a free, open-source platform that can help scientists make their research more reproducible, more efficient, and more collaborative. OSF enables research teams to bring together data, documentation, workflows, and code all in one place by providing free and secure data storage with plugins for popular third-party tools such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and GitHub. While OSF is a valuable tool at any stage of the research process, it is especially useful for disseminating results and sharing data or code.

In this workshop, we will demonstrate OSF, discuss how open science principles work in practice in our fields, and construct an example OSF project site together. Participants of this workshop will learn: Continue reading

HSLS Staff News

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

Names in bold are HSLS-affiliated


Pitt’s Office of Human Resources recognized HSLS employees Arlie Chipps, Library Specialist, Amos Glenn, TEC Instructional Design Lead, Brian Krummel, TEC Web Manager, and Joel Marchewka, Web and Application Programmer, for their five years of service to the University.

Maria Davies has joined the HSLS staff as a Main Desk Assistant. Maria graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) and worked at the Indiana Free Library in the Circulation Department.

Rebekah Miller, Research and Instruction Librarian, was awarded the Medical Library Association Mid-Atlantic Chapter’s 2021 MAC Award for Professional Excellence by a New Health Sciences Librarian. Continue reading