Posts filed under ‘What's Your Reference Question?’

I Want To Do a Systematic Review

“I need to do a systematic review.”

“I want a systematic review.

The refrain is increasingly common, but it’s not always clear what someone means by a systematic review. Before our reference librarians will start on a “systematic review” literature search, they will work with you to make sure that what you really need–and want–is a systematic review. (more…)

May 1, 2013 at 10:36 am

Applying a Little Common Sense to Your Search Results

Recently I was asked to perform a literature search looking for studies on off-hours care for acute myocardial infarction and stroke.  Off-hours care means care during non-normal working hours like nights, weekends, and holidays. (more…)

January 31, 2013 at 11:05 am

Transcultural Resources

With increasingly diverse patient populations and greater emphasis on patient-centered care, professional and student nurses as well as other healthcare providers require information pertaining to transcultural care. (more…)

October 30, 2012 at 4:06 pm

What’s your reference question?

I received this question from one of our oncologists:

“We  are coming out with a new book, The Mayo Clinic Breast Cancer Book. There is one mystery for which I need expert detective help.  In our original book on women’s cancers [Mayo Clinic Guide To Women’s Cancers], we had a figure on p 41 showing a metastatic cell entering a lymph node.  This originally was published in the NEJM as “an image” – I can’t remember the name of the series that they used to run but they would show specific pictures.  We want to include this figure in the new book, but I need a better citation than simply NEJM and I don’t have the original. Is there any way that you might be able to find this for us?”

My first step was to look at the figure on page 41. I found a copy of the book at our Cancer Education Center. The legend for that particular figure read “Metastatic breast cancer occurs when breast cancer cells spread to other parts of the body. The cells use lymphatic vessels and blood vessels as a means of travel to other areas. This microscopic image shows cancer cells (see arrow) entering a lymph node through a lymphatic channel.  Reprinted with permission from the New England Journal of Medicine.”

My second step was to log into Medline. This is what I knew for sure: the article would have been published before 2005 since that was the copyright date of the book, and that  it was published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). I figured that it was part of the NEJM Images in Clinical Medicine series. My initial search in Medline was “New England Journal of Medicine.jn” + “Images Clinical Medicine.ti” (jn refers to “journal name” and ti refers to “title”– as in words in the title of the article). I limited the search between 1960-2005, which resulted in 795 hits. To narrow the search, I started adding keywords based on the text supplied in the legend. I figured that the image may not have anything to do with breast cancer, so I tried variations of lymphatic vessels or blood vessels or lymph nodes or lymphatic channel. None of those resulted in the image I was looking for. This now meant doing what we librarians call “hand searching” — or more appropriately “scroll searching”– as I would have to scroll through 795 references to find that nugget.

I could have scrolled through the titles of the 795 Medline citations, but I chose to go to the NEJM’s web site where I could also limit to “Images in Clinic Medicine” between 1960-2005. The advantage to this option was that the images were displayed next to the references, and I knew what image I was looking for.  With a little perseverance, I found the image: A Metastasis Caught in the Act in volume 335, page 1733, December 5, 1996!

Why didn’t I find it in Medline? It’s there — I found it when I had all the information from NEJM: Brat DJ, Hruban RH. Images in clinical medicine. A metastasis caught in the act. N Engl J Med. 1996 Dec 5;335(23):1733. PubMed PMID: 8929265. The one keyword I didn’t use was metastasis (or a truncation of metastasis), which was a big oversight on my part since it was one of the keywords in the figure’s legend. Why didn’t any of my keywords find the reference even though they are in the text of the article? There are no abstracts associated with the articles in the Images in Clinical Medicine series.  So, unless  my keywords were in the article title or the subject headings, I wouldn’t find the reference. Although I wasn’t thorough with my search strategy, it led me to play with the NEJM web site and discover the bonus of having the images display alongside the reference.


August 6, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Environmental Exposures

My doctor said that my illness is related to the exposures that I had when I was working.  Where can I find reliable, authoritative information on environmental exposures? (more…)

April 26, 2012 at 8:30 am

What’s Your Reference Question?

No matter how long you’ve been answering reference questions, sooner or later you will be faced with a topic that is unfamiliar, or where the literature is difficult to find. then it’s time to play a variation on “Twenty Questions” — Is it bigger than a breadbox? Is it animal, vegetable, or mineral? and in this particular case, what else might it be called? (more…)

October 20, 2011 at 3:34 pm 2 comments

What’s Your Reference Question?

Systematic Reviews Process

I hear quite frequently from various library users “I need to do a systematic review. Can you help me?” The same question is posed to most of the librarians staffing the Public Services areas.

The first step is to clarify what the user understands about a systematic review, in terms of languages to be included, and the number of articles to be retrieved.  Often, what is needed is only a relatively complete overview of the English language literature over the last five to ten years for an article.

But not always. (more…)

August 3, 2011 at 11:07 am

What’s Your Reference Question?

Ten of the more “tame” reference questions sent to the Patients’ Library

  1. My sister wants information on bingo calling tips.    
  2. Could you tell me everything that can go wrong with me now that I’m 40?
  3. Do you have a picture of Joan of Arc on a horse?  
  4. Please provide me with information on how the phases of the moon affect medical conditions. 
  5. Can you give me a brochure on cellulite of the eyes? (Often we have to interpret what the patron really wants.)
  6. Do you have any visual aids of gladiators? 
  7. I would like a video on spontaneous human combustion. (Actually was a BBC documentary on the subject.)
  8. Please give me a list of square dance calls. 
  9. Can you recommend a stupid book? I don’t want to think too much.
  10. Would you tell me my horoscope today so I know if it’s okay to have surgery?

Debbie Fuehrer
Rochester Methodist Hospital
Patients’ Library

April 28, 2011 at 3:37 pm

What’s Your Reference Question?

In the world of public libraries, college libraries, and school libraries, it is assumed that the library is a primary gateway to information.  What is often forgotten (even by the libraries) is that the private, special/corporate library is often seen the same way. (more…)

February 10, 2011 at 3:03 pm

What’s Your Reference Question?

I received this email late in the day one day in August:

“I wonder if someone could assist with finding a quote by Dr. Henry Plummer?  We need this for a presentation ASAP.  The quote begins:
“The building is a tool…..” however we don’t know the ending of the quote.  Perhaps someone in Rochester would know?  Can you help?  I searched the E-Online Aphorisms of the Mayo Brothers, but that was not the right path.  I’m not quite sure where else to begin.  Thanks for your assistance.” (more…)

November 9, 2010 at 2:34 pm 2 comments

Exploring an Unfamiliar Topic Area with Related Records

Most questions that come through Reference are fairly precise: comparison of bare metal stents vs. drug-eluting stents, in terms of restenosis, survival.  But, every so often, the question is very wide-ranging, and in an unfamiliar area. (more…)

August 5, 2010 at 3:05 pm

Database field codes: what are they and how do I use them?

When searching the CINAHL or Ovid MEDLINE databases, you may find that there isn’t a subject heading that precisely matches your search topic.  Sometimes your topic is so current that a subject heading hasn’t been added. (more…)

April 22, 2010 at 3:05 pm

Locating Information on Nurse Theorists and Nursing Theory

Nursing students often ask for library assistance locating materials on a particular nurse theorist’s work and related writings.  Beginning with Florence Nightingale in the 1800s, nurse theorists represent distinguished scholars who have shaped the education, practice, management and research of modern nursing science.  (more…)

April 22, 2010 at 3:04 pm

If At First You Don’t Succeed…

A consultant at Mayo Clinic Rochester requested a search for patient care.  The request he made was:

“Any examples you can find where a change (increase) from a baseline level of a test is used to confirm a diagnosis.”

Thinking this was a little broad, I asked him for some clarification.  He replied:

“I was looking for something like a mediator, hormone, cytokine that spikes when symptoms flare.” (more…)

January 14, 2010 at 2:04 pm

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