Using Scientific Evidence to Improve Information Practice
This policy statement expresses the vision of the Medical Library Association (MLA) of research as a foundation for excellence in health information practice, for new and expanded roles for health sciences librarians, and for attracting excellent people to the profession. It also affirms the association's commitment to collaborate with other organizations to increase support for health sciences librarians' research activities.
MLA's research policy is guided by the association's strategic plan, which identifies research in health information science as a key part of the association's mission. The research policy statement builds upon and complements MLA's educational policy statement, Platform for Change, which identifies research, analysis, and interpretation as one of the seven broad categories of knowledge and skills needed by health sciences librarians. Like the strategic plan and Platform for Change MLA's research policy statement is addressed to a wide audience, including MLA members, library and information science (LIS) educators, administrators, health care professionals, researchers, and policy makers.
Through much discussion and document revision, MLA's Research Task Force, charged with developing this statement, arrived at a vision of health information management practice whose core consists of verified scientific evidence, with LIS professionals as creators, managers, and active users of such evidence. The policy expresses MLA's vision of research as a foundation for excellence in the profession, for new and expanded roles for health sciences librarians, and for attracting top people to the field. It also emphasizes MLA's commitment to collaborating with other groups to increase support for the research activities of those in the field.
The research policy does not include a "laundry list" of research topics. Instead, it provides an intellectual basis and rationale for the role of research in support of professional practice. Knowledge gained from research can provide a relevant, useful base for improved information practice. The policy statement articulates a dual role for health sciences librarians in relation to research. On the one hand, health sciences librarians must be familiar with health care research methods and sources in order to provide information services based on scientific knowledge to their users. On the other hand, they must pay particular attention to the development and application of their own research knowledge base.
The policy statement begins by acknowledging the many changes that are occurring in the provision of information, health care, and the role of health sciences librarians. In order to take advantage of the significant opportunities to develop research in the new environment, the goals of the document suggest that health sciences librarians must do the following:
The document goes on to describe the role that individual health sciences librarians and MLA must play to meet these goals. The proposed action plan outlines future directions for MLA under the headings of "Education", "Research Support", "Funding", "Dissemination", "Recognition", and "Measurement".
Medical Library Association
Last Updated: 2007 June 06