SLA Biomedical and Life Sciences Division

2008 Contributed Papers

Monday, June 16, 2008 7:00AM - 8:30AM

Life Science Research and Its Impact on Species Conservation Regulation and Advocacy:  The Role of Legal Information Professionals
Bobbi Weaver, Foreign & International Law Reference Librarian, California Western School of Law, San Diego, California, USA

When advocating the protection of animal and plant species through the legal system, government agencies, attorneys, and environmental activists often have to research sources beyond the traditional legal ones.  Agencies developing regulations must show the public the need and purpose of the regulations.  Lawyers advocating for species protection in court may also need to show evidence of the need to protect a particular species, e.g. it’s endangered or threatened status, the role it plays in the ecosystem, the educational value of its existence to humans, etc.  Likewise, environmental activists often need scientific research to effectively lobby for stronger species protection.  This paper will focus on the types of scientific research used to support legal advocacy for species protection.  Literature on this topic will be reviewed, and real-life case studies involving species in the San Diego area will be discussed.  The case studies will include my personal experience with assisting in the protection of a harbor seal colony in San Diego County.  In this particular instance, a coalition of environmental and animal protection groups formed to advocate for the protection of this rookery on a local, state, and federal level.  The coalition also produced literature citing both legal and scientific data to support the continued existence of the colony.  Finally, the paper will discuss how legal information professionals can assist their patrons with this research.

Event-based Science: From the Haystack to the Desktop
Joshua B. Illig, M. Ed, Manager, Institutional Sales and Marketing, Medical Content Division, Conference Archives, Inc.

It has been well established that biomedical society scientific meetings are a forum for the best and brightest education and research in a given field, and thus represent great educational value to those who are exposed to it.  Despite its immense impact and importance to the global clinical and research community, event-based science (EBS) – meeting abstracts, posters, and oral presentations – is extremely difficult for librarians, information professionals, and the researchers and physicians they serve to locate. Through the digital capture, archiving, and online delivery of EBS, an important and much-needed educational resource is realized, one that delivers the science in a rich media and timely manner.

Online access to aggregated EBS is of great value to institutions and the global medical community as it decreases lost time due to research duplication, increases peer collaboration, and presents an all-encompassing, rich media educational resource.  Despite the importance of EBS, studies have shown that less than half of the abstracts accepted for presentation at biomedical meetings eventually go to publication, and that it could take upwards of six years for this to occur.  Therefore, the digital capture and timely dissemination of EBS, and preservation of the totality of research being done and presented in a given biomedical field, is of utmost importance.

This paper focuses on the benefits of digitally capturing and disseminating EBS, and its importance as an educational resource for institutions and the global biomedical community.  Additionally, the current state of EBS capture will be discussed, as well as a proprietary EBS dissemination platform named Ekatius™.

Putting Wikipedia to the Test: A Case Study
Kaye  Lasserre, Liaison Librarian, Rural Clinical School Library Service, University of Queensland, Australia
Lisa Kruesi, Manager, Health Sciences Library Service, Herston Health Sciences Library, University of Queensland, Australia

Medical students use Wikipedia to find information for their studies.  The attraction is very quick access to a simple overview of a medical topic.  Google any medical condition and the Wikipedia entry will be the first on the list. Are Wikipedia entries suitable for use by medical students? Since anyone can author and edit Wikipedia entries, we obtained expert medical opinion on how accurate the information is compared to proprietary, subscription based resources.  In order to have a ‘blinded’ study the medical experts were sent entries without an indication of where the resources were taken from.  We report on the comprehensiveness of Wikipedia entries and the suitability of the content for medical students.  An analysis of convenience verus quality is made.  The comparison is made between Wikipedia entries with eMedicine (another free resource) and two subscription based resources, UpToDate and Harrison’s Online.  A report on accessibility and useability of the resources is also included.  Our study evaluates medical entries such as Multiple Sclerosis, Conjunctivitis and Otitis Media retrieved from the resources evaluated.

Librarians from the University of Queensland Library, in Australia, initiated the case study. An objective for the Librarians was to advance their professional role in assessing sources on behalf of the communities they represent and to maintain a presence within the Web 2.0 environment occupied by many of their students.  The results of the study will help guide academics and students on the quality of a range of information resources to support teaching and learning in the biomedical sciences.

The Institutional Review Board and Library Research:  Memoirs of a Multi-site Project
Michele R. Tennant, PhD, MLIS, University Librarian, Health Science Center Libraries and UF Genetics Institute, University of Florida

Although many librarians perform research involving online surveys, assessments, focus groups, and structured interviews, many of us do not realize that these studies may constitute "human subjects research", and require approval of our organization's Institutional Review Board (IRB).  These boards exist to ensure that human subject research is carried out in an ethical fashion.  While such research is governed by the principles of respect for persons, beneficence, and justice, most academic institutions have some degree of local control over their IRB requirements.  The need for exempt, expedited or full review can vary among institutions, as can the requirements for signed consent, anonymity, sound and computer recording, destruction and retention of records, etc.  Some institutions have an IRB-02, which covers the social and behavioral sciences, while others have only one IRB, requiring librarians and gene therapists alike to complete the same application process.  The requirements can be confusing enough when confined to one institution; they become astronomically more complicated in multi-site studies.

This paper describes the author's negotiation through the IRB process at over 15 separate institutions, in support of her multi-site study of researchers' use of online bioinformatics resources.  The term "human subjects research" will be defined and related to typical library research projects.  The historical bases of institutional review boards and informed consent will be presented.  Differences between exempt, expedited, and full reviews, IRB-01 and IRB-02, benefits and compensation, and privacy and confidentiality will be delineated.  IRB processes at the author's study sites will be compared, and some common pitfalls in dealing with the IRB approval process will be noted. The paper will also provide information and links to some highly regarded online IRB resources.


Rev. June 2008