Citizen Science: A Tool for Teaching, Learning, and Contributing in the Health Sciences

April is Citizen Science Month, so there’s no better time to consider incorporating citizen science into the classroom or into your free time. Citizen science refers to scientific research that leverages the collective strength of communities and the public to identify research questions, collect and analyze data, interpret results, make new discoveries, and/or develop technologies and applications. Today’s thriving citizen science movement has evolved over centuries as a mutually beneficial solution to both researchers’ needs for greater data-collection and analysis capacity and communities’ desire to be empowered as active participants in research that affects them.

Projects that ask everyday people to go outside and count birds, identify plants, or report air pollution often serve as the face of citizen science, as they are widely appealing and easy to participate in. However, citizen science projects can be found in almost any area of inquiry, ranging from history to astronomy. In fact, citizen health science is increasingly making its mark on biomedical research! We’re exploring this topic in the HSLS class, Citizen Health Science: A Tool for Teaching, Learning, and Contributing, on April 20 at 2 p.m.

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New NIH Website for Scientific Data Sharing

After a long development process, the NIH’s new Data Management and Sharing (DMS) Policy will go into effect on January 25, 2023. The key feature of the new policy is that all researchers applying to the NIH for funding will be required to submit a Data Management and Sharing Plan (or DMSP) with their funding proposal; previously, many centers and funding opportunities had required a similar data management plan, but the requirement was not universal. The new policy does not require that researchers share their data (either with other researchers or with the public) but does convey “an expectation that researchers will maximize appropriate data sharing when developing plans.”

With January 2023 fast approaching, many have asked for more specific guidance from the NIH. The NIH has recently launched the Scientific Data Sharing website with helpful notices that expand the DMS Policy, such as:

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Featured Workshop: Visualizing Research Impact with VOSviewer

HSLS offers classes in a wide array of subjects—citation management, database searching, bioinformatics software, and more! You can quickly view all Upcoming Classes and Events or sign up to receive the weekly Upcoming HSLS Classes and Workshops email.

Featured workshop of the month: Visualizing Research Impact with VOSviewer

Monday, April 25, 2022, noon-1:30 p.m.

Register for this virtual workshop*

Visualizing Research Impact with VOSviewer is a hands-on class that introduces participants to techniques for creating data visualizations with VOSviewer, a software tool used to generate, visualize, and analyze bibliometric networks that include journals, researchers/authors, or individual publications. These networks can be created based on data downloaded from various sources, such as Web of Science and PubMed. Whether they illustrate author collaborations, analyze article citation patterns, or explore research trends through text mining, data visualization can be an effective way to tell your research impact story and add value to a wide variety of reports.

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Sharing Options Available in Microsoft OneDrive

With Pitt’s Box license ending in August 2022, Microsoft OneDrive is now the University’s primary cloud storage solution. Storing files on OneDrive instead of on your computer allows you to access them from any device at any time. OneDrive also natively offers several file-sharing options, enabling easy collaboration that doesn’t rely on endless email chains or access to shared network drives.

OneDrive’s various file-sharing options allow a file’s creator to control who can access a file. These options include:

  • Anyone with the link: Anyone who has the link to the file will be able to access it. This option is useful for non-sensitive files that will be widely shared inside and outside of Pitt. A note of caution—anyone you share this link with can then choose to share this same link with others, meaning that someone may access the file without your knowledge or explicit permission.
  • People in University of Pittsburgh with the link: Anyone who has the link to the file and is a member of the Pitt community will be able to access the file. After clicking on the link, collaborators will be prompted to log in to their Pitt account via Pitt Passport before they can view the file. This option is useful for files that will be widely shared within Pitt but should not be available to anyone outside of the university.
  • Specific people: Only collaborators that you specify by email address will be able to access the file, even if they forward the link on to someone else. This option allows precise control over file access.
  • People with existing access: This option does not change any sharing permissions, and only generates a sharing link that can be accessed by those you have already shared the file with.

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In Memoriam: Jonathon Erlen, Ph.D.

John ErlenHSLS mourns the passing of Dr. Jonathon Erlen, longtime HSLS History of Medicine Librarian, at the age of 75. John retired in January 2019 after a 35-year career at HSLS. Through the years, he shared his love of the history of medicine with generations of students and scholars, including pre-med students in the Honors College as well as graduate students at Pitt’s Center for Medical Ethics, the School of Public Health, the School of Nursing, the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, and many others. He treasured his joint appointment in the School of Medicine, and his enthusiastic lectures were especially appreciated by fourth-year medical students completing his month-long elective in the history of medicine. In 2004, he received the School of Medicine Curriculum Committee’s Excellence in Education Award.

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HSLS Staff News

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


Melissa Ratajeski, Assistant Director for Data and Publishing Services, and Rebekah Miller, Research and Instruction Librarian, co-authored the article:

Ratajeski MA, Miller RS. “Adapting to Changes in Publishing When Searching for Alternatives and Reporting on Animal Research: A Librarian’s Perspective.” Alternatives to laboratory animals : ATLA, 2611929211072862. 25 Feb. 2022, doi:10.1177/02611929211072862

Rose Turner, Assistant Director for Liaison Services and Instruction, co-authored the article:

Bise, Christopher Gene and Cupler, Zachary and Mathers, Sean and Turner, Rose and Sundaram, Meenakshi and Catalani, Beatriz and Dahler, Sarah and Popchak, Adam and Schneider, Michael J., Face to Face Telehealth Interventions in the Treatment of Low Back Pain: A Systematic Review. CTCP-D-22-00121. 3 Mar. 2022,


Carrie Iwema, Coordinator for Basic Science Research Support, is leaving HSLS to become a Senior UX Strategist working with the NIH All of Us Research Program. Since joining the library in 2007, Iwema, capitalizing on her previous experience as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Neurosurgery at Yale University, has helped countless researchers through her work with the MolBio Information Service and Data Services.

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