Three ideas to advance our research base I. Diane Cooper, AHIP DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3163/1536-5050.103.4.001
Keywords: Library Science Research, Evidence-Based Practice, Data Management, Decision Making
We always say we should advance to our future on an evidence-based path. We have been talking about evidence-based librarianship (EBL) since at least 2000. The goal of evidence-based practice in both medicine and librarianship is to improve professional decision making . EBL improves librarianship by incorporating evidence into daily practice. In 2000, Eldredge wrote: Every day health sciences librarians, like their colleagues in other health care specialties, make numerous decisions. These decisions range from the critical to the mundane...EBL offers a possible framework for making these decisions under conditions of uncertainty by providing a system for evaluating different forms of research evidence. 
We can probably all agree that EBL is essential, that it is based on good research, and that venues such as the Journal of the Medical Library Association (JMLA) are important for communicating good research. That is why, as a big stakeholder in research, I present three ideas that might strengthen our EBL path even more. I. RESEARCH COALITIONS
How many researchers does it take to produce a high-quality study? I don’t know, but surely it is more than one or two. Researchers should not be lonely, and they should not be provincial. They should have easy access to a group of their peers to challenge, and think through, and help execute their studies. They should belong to a formal research coalition. For example, suppose a group of larger libraries in Kentucky, southern Ohio, and West Virginia could come together to support each other in research planning and execution. The new coalition of researchers might have one meeting faceto-face, but then lots of teleconferences and webinars. One library might have more statistical prowess, another more population access. Pooled talents and resources, and mutual trust could
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produce powerful results. Multi-institutional collaborative research projects are more likely to be unbiased, transparent, and reliable. II. DATA STORAGE
Data collected by individual researchers can be deidentified, cataloged, and shared so that others can use it or add to it. Some libraries already have the resources, and I imagine it would be possible to find support for an expanded data bank, when necessary. A centralized repository that would allow Medical Library Association members to generate, create, curate, and share data means more data availability, and that means more powerful research. This is so important that it may become a JMLA requirement. III. PROJECT CLEARINGHOUSE
Suppose large university medical library (LUML) wants to try out a new approach for training health sciences students. LUML staff only have access to their school’s student body. If they could present their proposal to a national clearinghouse, and it were displayed to all libraries, it is likely other libraries would join them and execute the same protocol. The pooled data would be much more authoritative. § The JMLA is a big stakeholder in medical and health sciences librarianship research. Our job is to communicate and promote good research. ‘‘Communicate’’ means to present research in an understandable and interesting way. ‘‘Promote good research’’ means to encourage researchers to use the most sound and appropriate scientific models possible. These three ideas should stir discussion among all the stakeholders and could lead to some remarkable innovations.
REFERENCES 1. Marshall JG. Linking research to practice: the rise of evidence-based health sciences librarianship. J Med Lib Assoc. 2014 Jan;102(1):14–21. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/0 .3163/1536-5050.102.1.005. 2. Eldredge JD. Evidence-based librarianship: an overview. Bull Med Lib Assoc. 2000 Oct;88(4):289–302.
AUTHOR’S AFFILIATION I. D ian e Co op er, A H IP, [email protected]
, Editor-in-Chief, Journal of the Medical Library Association
J Med Lib Assoc 103(4) October 2015