In the last week it was revealed that Elsevier, the health and sciences publishing giant, accepted payment from the pharmaceutical giant Merck, to publish a “journal” with multiple articles recommending the use of its drugs (see TheScientist.com’s detailed reports here and here). The Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine was sponsored by Merck, a fact which was never disclosed in the publication. Additionally, Elsevier has confessed that an additional five titles published between the years of 2000-2005 were also sponsored by pharmaceutical companies and presented as peer-reviewed journals. These titles were published by Elsevier’s Australia bureau with the Excerpta Medica imprint. (None of the titles are in Laupus Library’s collections.)
This rather unethical practice presents a number of problems, not the least of which is the underlying disregard these businesses had for patient safety. What is Elsevier’s or Merck’s responsibility in recalling this information now? What other publications has Elsevier received payment for? What other publications are sponsored by “big pharma” without our knowledge? If you are a reseacher or healthcare practitioner, how would you be able to tell that these titles were disingenuous?
If you, your staff, or students are ever in doubt about the authenticity of data you’d like to use in your research or for patient care, please consider Laupus librarians a great resource for investigation. Information Services librarians are here to help you get the best quality data available and can look for those pieces of the puzzle that would signal poorly constructed research, like lack of quality references and sponsorship.
Laupus intends to monitor developments on this news item as they unfold and add updates to this post. Additional information can located at the following links:
New York Times article
In previous posts we’ve talked about the personal health record and applications like Google Health. We want to take the time in this week’s post to highlight a special article in the April 16th issue of the New England Journal of Medicine which gives an update on the current state of the electronic health record (EHR).
The authors of the article, “Use of Electronic Health Records in U.S. Hospitals”, studied the prevalence of the adoption of the EHR in U.S. hospitals. Their conclusion? Only 1.5% of hospitals surveyed had a system-wide EHR in place. Another 7.5% had adopted an EHR which was implemented in some but not all clinical units. Additionally, computerized, provider-order entry for medications has been implemented in only 17% of hospitals. Also, the authors note that large hospitals, those in urban areas, and teaching hospitals were more likely to have an EHR in place.
If you’re interested in reading more, including conclusions the authors draw from the data, and their recommendations about government policy regarding EHRs, then you’re in luck – the NEJM has made this important article available here on the journal’s website.
In an earlier post we covered 5 things the library does better than Google. In this one, we’ll highlight some features of Google we really like – and think you might, too:
- Share pictures with your colleagues and students. Do you have a set of digital images or photos you’d like to easily share with your colleagues or students? You might want to think about using Picasa, Google’s photo sharing tool. Picasa will scan your computer’s hard drive and find your photos automatically, arranging them by date. You can then tag the images, organize them by album, and send a link to the folks you want to share these with.
- Get updates on Google searches sent automatically to your e-mail account. Google Alerts lets you enter a search term, let’s say “ECU School of Dentistry” and anytime new information matches that search, an update will be sent to your e-mail. But don’t worry – you can set those alerts to come once a day or once a week if you don’t want notices delivered all day long.
- Electronic medical records – Google has them. That’s right. Google is getting in on the ERM market, but with a patient-centered approach. Anyone can sign up for a Google Health account to have their personal medical records at their fingertips. CVS and Walgreens pharmacies, Quest Diagnostics, and major health care providers like the Cleveland Clinic and Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center already link their prescription, laboratory, and other patient records to Google Health. Also, patients can update their own contact and condition information to keep their providers’ information up to date.
- Search the full-text of books. Google Books has scanned a ton of books and made (most) of the full-text contents of these books available for searching online. Let’s say you remember a chapter from the book Thermodynamics by Enrico Fermi, and want to cite it in a paper but you don’t have a copy of the text close at hand. Well now you do – its just on Google instead of on your bookshelf. Granted, some of the pages are going to be missing (not even Google can thwart copyright law) but you can search and read much of the text.
- Share office documents. Google Documents allows you to create spreadsheets, letters, .pdf files, and presenations, then share them with anyone else who has a Google account. You can also let them edit the documents if you so choose. This is a great way to share a single file with multiple colleagues at a distance.
- Search for videos. Google Video is a fantastic way to search for videos on all kinds of subjects, health care included. For instance, look up “mitral valve surgery” and you’ll find ECU’s own Dr. Randy Chitwood discussing it and his predictions for the health of eastern North Carolina in the next 30 years. Or a search on “biofeedback training” brings up a video from the ECU Psychophysiology and Biofeedback lab. Oh - and Google Video searches not just their own videos but also YouTube and content on other video sites.
- Get definitions fast. If you need a definition for something and don’t have a dictionary handy, you can type “define:term” into Google’s search box and it will retrieve definitions for you if they are available. This works for medical terms as well as everyday terms. You just have to be careful about making sure the definition comes from a reliable source.
- Calculate and convert. Not only can you do simple arithmetic in Google, but you can also use Google to handle conversions such as ounces to grams or tablespoons to milliliters. Google even recognizes abbreviations. For instance, if you type “5 tbs into ml” into the search box, Google responds that 5 US tablespoons = 73.9338239 ml.
- Create your own, interactive homepage. iGoogle let’s you create a personal homepage. This means you can go to Google.com and instead of just using a search box, you can add additional boxes on the page (called gadgets) which can do things like show you the latest research updates from JAMA and NEJM, display NIH news releases, count your daily calories, or display a funny cat photo. (We’re librarians – we had to throw that cat one in there.)
- Ok let’s end on a fun one – local movies. Need to know if a movie is showing close to your home? All you have to do is type in the name of the movie and the zip code and you’ll see a display of theaters and showtimes on the Google results page.
If you have any other tips or tricks for using Google effectively, please share them in the comments section.
We know you love Google. So do we. But when it comes to some things, we’ve got them beat. Here are five things libraries do better than Google:
- Libraries have great online subject guides. We’ll use Laupus as an example for this one. Let’s say you need five journal articles for a paper due on prevention of bed sores. It may seem like more work to start your research from the library’s e-resources page than to just pull up Google, but in the long run it won’t be. By pulling up the subject “nursing” from the list on the e-resources page, you have already narrowed down your results to seventeen databases that include peer-reviewed and full-text articles. If you do a Google search you get 916,000 hits on the term bed sores. There’s no way to know what the hits are (websites? articles? blog entries?) until you click through each one. Start with the Laupus e-resources page and not only do you save time, you get better quality research. Your professors will love that.
- We have a place to meet – in person. Let’s step outside the online world for a second. Libraries are electronic environments just as much as they are physical ones these days. It is a wonderful thing to turn to the web when you need to access thousands of volumes of books and journals. But how do you talk to your classmates about an assignment? And not just virtually, but actually meeting in person and sharing experiences, or talking with each other through the research process. Libraries offer you a place to meet up and do just that.
- Google Scholar? Sorry, libraries have it beat. Google Scholar is not a bad resource, it’s just very broad and not at all comprehensive. Google gathers its scholarly information from a wide array of sources online and can’t drill down to specific information the same way library resources can.
- Libraries buy journals and books on your behalf. Again, let’s use Laupus as an example. It has something in common with other great university resources like the Student Rec Center, Student Health, and even ECU Transit – we’re all supported by your tuition fees and state tax dollars and we all provide services that will help you throughout your time at ECU. Laupus uses your money to purchase the highest quality health information available. Google doesn’t do that for you. Use our resources and you will be tapping into an investment you’ve already made.
- The library has librarians! Google doesn’t have someone you can call when you have a question. Google won’t chat with you. Anonymous Google employees might answer an e-mail if you send one, but we definitely will. And not only that, but we understand what you are going through. Research isn’t always an easy process but librarians are here to help you get through it as painlessly as possible. Contact us – we want to help.