Category Archives: Resource Discovery

Expert Search Early Adopters pilot – searches in provider interfaces

In mid-September 2020, HEE began a pilot to understand how best to help LKS in England move from using HDAS to using provider interfaces (EBSCOhost, Proquest and Ovid – see here for further detail).

The pilot period has now ended and we’re in the process of finalising the project report. Today we’re sharing our findings from the post-switch searches that our participants carried out in provider interfaces between November 2020 and January 2021. We asked people to record data for one day of each week, and they filled in an online form for any searches they did that day. We had 296 searches captured, from quick 20 minute scoping searches to 16 hours’ worth of searching to support a large evidence review and everything in between. We think it’s a fascinating set of data and we could write many, many blog posts about it, but we’re showcasing some of the highlights here. If you have any burning questions about our findings that aren’t addressed here, please post them in the comments below and we’ll try and answer.

Pilot participants were faced with a choice when searching, as Medline is available in all three provider interfaces – Ovid, EBSCO and Proquest. As reflected in pre-switch search data it continued to be the most frequently used database, with 92% of searches using Medline from one provider or another. Ovid Medline was the most frequently used resource overall (70% of searches), with Ovid EMBASE second (61%) and EBSCO CINAHL third (40%).

More post switch searches were carried out over multiple sessions (57%) than in a single session (43%). The time taken to complete a search varied between 20 minutes and 16 hours. As with our pre-switch search data, there were two searches captured that fitted into the systematic review category, and as their times vastly skewed the average search time they were removed from calculations for this blog post. With the remaining 294 searches the average time to complete was 3 hours 13 minutes, with most taking between 2-3 hours or 3-4 hours (23% and 21%).

Participants used many different combinations of interfaces and databases to search. The use of multiple interfaces was spread pretty evenly, with 41% using one provider interface, 39% using two and 20% using three. Where searches did use just one interface, 62% used Ovid.

We asked participants to tell us what had gone well with their search, what didn’t go so well, and what changes could be made to improve their search experience. Things that worked well included the use of reference management software for amalgamating results, the ease of use of subject headings within the provider interfaces, and using one interface – where the search is carried out in multiple databases but in a single provider interface. Things that didn’t work so well included difficulty producing outputs for end user, a perception that the whole process took a lot longer, and problems with reference management software, whether it was difficulty importing results or not being able to format references in a desired style. The suggestions for improvements to the search experience covered a multitude of elements, some related to the interfaces themselves, others around issues with reference management software, the time burden of adapting to new functionality and the extra login steps needed to access databases.

Finally we asked people to rate their search experience a star rating, where 1 is poor and 5 is excellent. The average rating was 3, with 10% rating 1 star, 18% rating 2 stars, 42% rating 3 stars, 21% rating 4 stars and 9% rating 5 stars.

The qualitative data collected about the search experience has been key in shaping the final report for the project, including recommendations for moving forward, and it will be published towards the end of April. For any questions about the project, please email Emily.hurt@lthtr.nhs.uk.

Emily Hurt
Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Expert Search Early Adopters pilot – training evaluation

In mid-September 2020, HEE began a pilot to understand how best to help LKS in England move from using HDAS to using provider interfaces (EBSCOhost, Proquest and Ovid – see here for further detail: https://kfh.libraryservices.nhs.uk/resourcediscovery/frequently-asked-questions-2/)

We’re now heading towards the end of the project and are currently analysing all of the data we’ve collected so we can pull together a report with recommendations for moving forward. Today we’re sharing some of the results from our training evaluation survey – the valuable feedback we’ve collected from pilot participants will shape the way training is rolled out to the rest of LKS in preparation for migration from HDAS to provider interfaces.

Training was offered by all three interface providers (EBSCO, Proquest and Ovid). The team at University of Cambridge Medical Library also very kindly provided online training that was open to all pilot participants, regardless of geographical region. All of the training sessions were recorded and made available to those who couldn’t attend the live sessions. Of the 68 participants who completed the training evaluation survey, 93% had attended some training as part of the pilot.

When asked if the training provided meant that participants felt ready to switch from using HDAS to provider interfaces for literature searching, the responses were split pretty much equally, with 51% answering yes and 49% answering no. We asked for further detail to help clarify the issues around preparedness, as this will be key to helping staff feel confident about moving from HDAS. Those who had answered ‘yes’ said that a) the training sessions were a good starting point, and that they were ready to dive in and start practicing (38%), or b) they already had some familiarity with provider interfaces and so the training acted as a refresher (34%). The responses for those who answered ‘no’ were more difficult to categorise. There was a feeling that the training on its own was not enough, that people needed time to consolidate their learning and practice. There were also comments about the need for follow up sessions so that there was an opportunity to ask questions and share experiences after the initial sessions.

When asked what they would like to change about the training offered, 68% of participants said that the timing of sessions needed to be earlier. There were definitely slippages in the timing of the whole project, and we appreciate that the training schedule didn’t fit with the expectations of the pilot participants. We know from other comments that people needed time to process what they had learnt, to practice searching so they could increase their familiarity with interfaces and also to have a chance to come back to training if they need to. All of the sessions were demonstrations with time for questions, and 10% of participants would have liked hands on training, where there’s a chance to try a live search for yourself. However, there was a recognition that could be difficult in an online format.

There was a marked difference in the feedback for the training delivered by provider representatives and the sessions held by the University of Cambridge Medical Library. Although satisfaction levels were not drastically different, participants commented positively on the content and structure of the Cambridge sessions. Their training focussed on taking a search from start to finish in an interface, whereas participants felt that the interface providers were demonstrating functionality and features that weren’t necessarily relevant to the search process.

The next blog post for the pilot will be sharing some of the results from the data we’ve collected around ‘post-switch’ searches – those carried out in provider interfaces. Participants captured information about 296 searches, which is a fantastic resource for us to draw from.

For any questions about the project, please email Emily.hurt@lthtr.nhs.uk.

Emily Hurt, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Vicky Price, Vicky Price Consulting

Expert Search Early Adopters pilot – pre-switch search data

In mid-September HEE began a pilot to understand how best to help LKS in England move from using HDAS to using provider interfaces (EBSCOhost, Proquest and Ovid – see here for further detail: https://kfh.libraryservices.nhs.uk/resourcediscovery/frequently-asked-questions-2/)

Phase one of data collection ended in November 2020 and we’re able to share some of the results from our survey around pre-switch searches (carried out primarily on HDAS). This was undertaken to capture ‘normal’ search behaviour, so we could do some comparing and contrasting with searches carried out on provider interfaces after the pilot groups switched. The data collected is a great snapshot of search activity and is fascinating reading if you’re interested in search behaviour.

We had 68 searches recorded during this phase. We asked participants to briefly describe their search – purpose, level of complexity etc. As expected, topics were wide ranging and search requesters were from a multitude of staff groups.

The most frequently used resources were HDAS Medline (76% of searches), HDAS CINAHL (63% of searches) and HDAS EMBASE (50% of searches). Results were collated using reference management for 13% of searches, and Endnote Desktop was the most frequently used reference management tool.

Exactly 50% of searches were completed in a single session and the other 50% over multiple sessions. The time it took to complete a search varied wildly, with the shortest taking just 20 minutes and the longest 15 hours – this was a search to support a systematic review. There were two searches captured that fitted into the systematic review category, and as their times vastly skewed the average search time they were removed from calculations. With the remaining 66 searches the average time to complete was 2 hours 51 minutes, with most taking between 1-2 hours or 2-3 hours (44% and 29% respectively).

We asked participants to tell us what had gone well with their search, what didn’t go so well, and what changes could be made to improve their search experience. Things that worked well included being able to search multiple resources without switching interfaces, being able to collate results and search history into one document for the search requester, and searches where the topic was straightforward and therefor easy to find results for. There were common issues around glitches in HDAS, de-duplicating results and the search topic either proving difficult to search for, or being outside of the scope of the databases available to the searcher. Possible improvements included increased stability (fewer interface glitches), less scrolling and a cleaner interface, and having access to reference management software to de-duplicate and collate results.

Finally we asked people to rate their search experience a star rating, where 1 is poor and 5 is excellent. The average rating was 3.7, with 34% rating 3 stars, 42% rating 4 stars and 21% rating 5 stars.

Phase two of data collection is now well under way, and we are asking participants to fill out a similar survey for any searches they carry out on one specific day of their working week. We’ll be sharing the results from this phase over the next few months.

For any questions about the project, please email Emily.hurt@lthtr.nhs.uk.

Emily Hurt
Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Vicky Price
Vicky Price Consulting