I was reading an article on why everyone hates HR. The post was so so, but what I found really interesting were the comments. Taking them as representative, people really do hate HR! (but of course, who takes comments as representative, or at least representative of what…?). Anyway, regardless of my views re: HR, one of the comments caught my eye:
“Though a bit wordy – I think you are correct.. IT departments do the same aswell – They feel they are separate from the business and by thinking it, make it so..”
… thus making the point that somehow HR professionals consider themselves in some way removed from the rest of the business. And I wondered, are information professionals and librarian-y types the same? If I were to ask you, do you consider your first loyalty to your profession, or to your company – which would it be? If you had to do something that in some way “harmed” your standing as an info pro, or “harmed” the requirements of your business, which would you choose?
For me I didn’t need to think about it at all – my loyalty is to my company; the needs of the business. Perhaps this is why I don’t sometimes feel like I’m a fully paid-up member of the information profession – that and because I joined the profession relatively late. But I think I’m right, aren’t I? I mean, what is the point, from a CEO’s point of view, of having an employee who is not primarily thinking of the needs of the business? Surely we’re doing ourselves no favours if we’re too precious about our profession?
We had a discussion at work recently about how we should keep up to date with drug topics we monitor. We do this to see what is happening with licensing in this country and/or in the US/Europe and then we might also be tracking disease areas also for other types of work. So what to use? We previously gave the drug topic monitoring job to one person in the team who would scan choice journals and send photocopies of the results but these were often out of date and this is an onerous job for one person remembering perhaps 10s or 100s of topic indications. We narrowed down the following to some essentials and others as optional but I would be interested to know what sources other people use.
- NeLM or National Electronic Library of Medicine. A “‘one stop’ platform from which users can easily find medicines information that matters in a simple and coherent manner”. Daily email alert delivered as headlines and often includes commentary and links to original sources. Pretty much our gold standard. Takes info from a range of sources: UK medicines information (UKMi), National Prescribing Centre and Medicines Compendium online to name but a few.
- PharmaTimes. This is on our core list as well although I have to admit I don’t use it, I think there was something weird about their sign up and it didn’t want to sign me up argh. We purchase some similar titles and this is all about e-TOCs.
- New drugs online. Produced by UKMi and ingested by NHS Evidence as well, NHS registered people can access more info than publically accessible too. Excellent for news and reporting of trials/regulatory stuff for new drugs. Example for lorcaserin for obesity.
- Medical News Today. US based although however news is captured it is truely worldwide. Sources include “JAMA, BMJ, Lancet, BMA, plus articles written by our own team”. Categorised into sections covering major disease areas these daily alerts are very comprehensive.
- Drugs.com. US again but good for FDA alerts that may influence European/National decisions. Probably more generalist/consumer level information
- Pharmalot. Blog from which you can receive alerts along the lines of investigative journalism and debate about pharmaceutical companies and drug development in general. Or “commentary on the pharmaceutical industry and related litigation.” The backstory of what makes the news later e.g. rosiglitazone.
- And other things: NHS Institute alerts (mainly implementation and while we’re on that see Implementation Science journal), the CASH database which aimed to be the national current awareness service although is reportedly biased towards whoever is updating it weekly and more traditional alerts from saved searches and e-TOCs galore.
How you manage these is up to you. I can’t help but scan them almost daily but do searches of the folder I bung them in in my inbox on a monthly basis…
Just a quick warning that there is currently a problem with the new OvidSP platform when you try and export/download results using the .txt format. Unfortunately it does not tell you there is a problem – everything seems just dandy in fact – but when you look closely you might be missing a handful of records. Quite worrying, if you’re doing a systematic review, and dealing with many hundreds of records. You might miss the key study and you’d never know it…
When I noticed this was happening I asked Ovid what was going on. They confirmed there was a known problem. However, they did not apologise or acknowledge in any way that it might be an inconvenience. Thanks guys, good customer service. They just said my name would be added to the list of customers that have reported the issue and who would be told when they come up with a solution. Nice.
Report from e-health-insider that the NHS has not renewed the £500Million contract with Microsoft for an NHS England wide licence. Comments highlight a likely issue for those using Sharepoint for their Intranets.
I cannot help thinking this signals bad things for the NHS Copyright Licence.
So reports the BMJ.
The California Digital Library of the University of California is threatening to cancel all its subscriptions to publications from the Nature Publishing Group and to encourage the university’s academic staff to submit their papers elsewhere for publication after a proposed 400% rise in licence fees for electronic access to journal articles.
I meant to blog this earlier but this issue is going nowhere. Good is a mild way of expressing how I feel about this. As public sector myself and subject to increasing cuts we are having to scrutinise journal subscriptions which indeed do not increase by ‘just’ 7% a year (inflation busting as this is). More debate here in the Chronicle of Higher Education.
I noticed today a tender notice from NICE outlining their broad plans for the specialist collections. Here is an abridged version:
“Today, NHS Evidence provides access to 30 collections of specialist evidence content, the ‘Specialist Collections’. In April 2011, NHS Evidence will launch a redesigned and improved specialist evidence service. As well as the technical developments, topic coverage will be extended and greater emphasis will be placed on quality assurance and standardisation of processes and products across topic areas. The current Specialist Collection service is contracted out to 21 distinct organisations (with an overall headcount of approx. 80 staff). The contracts for these services are due to end on 31.3.2011. In order to achieve the quality, consistency and standardisation objectives listed above, NHS Evidence are aiming to rationalise the provision of the core service to three Clinical Hub Centres. One of these will be in-house and Manchester based. The other two will be contracted out. The purpose of this tender is the provision of the service of these two Clinical Hub Centres from 1.4.2011. Each contracted out hub will cover 8 to 10 speciality areas. Key activities of each centre will include hand-picking content from sources routinely ingested by NHS Evidence, searching and identifying content from specialist sources, tagging resources / allocating to an agreed taxonomy, identifying entries for UK DUETs (UK Database of Uncertainties about the Effects of Treatment), preparing and programme managing Evidence Updates on selected key topics within the hub’s remit (there are currently over 60 Evidence Updates in total across all specialist collections, but this number is likely to increase). Managing and quality assuring the activities of each hub will be part of the service.”
There you are then. Make of that what you will. Nervous times for all involved, no doubt. Presumably the Kings Fund will go for one, given that they already manage three of the current specialist collections. Maybe a consortium up in Oxford (Oxford Radcliffe/CEBM)? They have their hands on a few. The University of Surrey currently manage three. The universities of Southampton, Sheffield and Warwick all have experience, as do a few London teaching hospitals (e.g. Royal Free). Any thoughts or inside information from anyone out there?
**Update 9th July**
It has been suggested that idle speculation about who might go for these Hubs is unhelpful, and that given people are stressed because some might lose their jobs etc. that it should best not be discussed. It is also noticeable that, apart from co-blogger Danni (thanks Danni!), there have been no comments made on the post, even though our stats suggest it has been viewed quite a number of times. I suppose I have four things to say:
- I’m just delighted when people other than my Mum read my posts
- We rarely get too many comments anyway *sigh*
- I’m a chatty blogger who likes to idly speculate. I also find it difficult to finish off blog posts. Ending after “… (e.g. Royal Free)” seemed a bit abrupt. I therefore lazily tapped out “Any thoughts or inside information from anyone out there?” just to round off the post in classic blogging style with a meaningless “what do you think” kind of way. I certainly never thought that I would get much response, let alone “Yes, I am a representative of organisation X, and we’re going for it”!
- I am aware that jobs will go, but also that new jobs will be created. I would never make light of the nervousness that we all feel during this time of uncertainty – for better or for worse, none of us have a job for life any more, and we all suffer from job anxiety. I apologise if it seemed to be in bad taste to speculate. However I do maintain that it is a topic of interest to a wide range of people, both inside and outside the NICE/specialist libraries axis, and that it’s right and proper that it is a point of discussion. Of course people on the inside will already have been speculating for a while, and will be much much better informed than I – they also would not start tapping out their inner thoughts on a forum such as this! But there are also people on the outside who are nevertheless interested in what’s going on, and some would be interested in speculation as to what’s going to happen next; and, I would suggest, why wouldn’t they be?
Basically, good luck to anyone who’s going for it, and double good luck for anyone whose job might be affected by it.