Information Services

Lightning Talk: Research Abstract

On the Same Page: Aligning Librarians’ and Requestors’ Relevance Perceptions to Improve the Search-and-Weed Process

Monday, May 6
2:30 PM - 2:35 PM
Room: Columbus KL (East Tower, Ballroom/Gold Level)

Objectives : Lack of a comprehensive database on allied health educational topics challenges those seeking such research. Searching multiple discipline-specific resources complicates database selection and increases duplicate and irrelevant search results. To identify effective techniques for reference-interviewing, selecting databases, and weeding results, this study assesses 1) alignment between librarians’ and requestors’ relevance judgments of search results and 2) factors influencing relevance perceptions.


Methods : Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Rehabilitation Science faculty/practitioners contributed six research questions on instructional methods and materials for patients (n=2 questions), caregivers (n=2), and allied health professions students (n=2). Two librarians searched five databases using available controlled vocabulary and search functions. Requestors evaluated their own search results for relevance using a rubric based on PICO that included check-boxes and open-response boxes for comments. Both librarians individually evaluated all results using the same rubric. Comparison of the requestor and averaged librarian relevance scores and thematic analysis of comments prompted revision of the rubric to account for factors that unexpectedly influenced relevance perceptions. The revised relevance rubric was tested against the results of searches in six new databases on the same six research questions. Finally, the eleven databases were ranked by percentage of unique relevant search results.


Results : Librarians tended to judge more references irrelevant than requestors. For three questions, librarians marked nearly 6% more references irrelevant, although for one caregiver education question librarians marked 12% more references relevant. Thematic mapping identified three factors influencing differing relevance perceptions: varying terminology definitions, unexpressed information needs, and unanticipated intended information use. Revision of the rubric enabled the librarians to more closely align their relevance judgments with the requestors during the second searching/assessment round. Overall, CINAHL and PubMed appear the most useful resources for patient and student education questions, and ERIC for caregiver education questions.


Conclusions : Optimal database selection and results weeding technique vary by requestors’ relevance criteria and the group targeted for educational intervention (patients, caregivers, students). Reference interviews should determine intended information use, ideal specificity of results, and terminology definitions (the latter still evolving in newer fields like rehabilitation). Librarians should clarify the discipline of allied health practitioners providing educational interventions, the time-frame of interventions, and the education-level of students receiving interventions. In weeding, librarians should err towards inclusivity when assessing results relevance. This study indicates that time spent discussing relevance criteria can result in closer alignment of requestors’ expectations to librarians’ search-and-weed efforts.

Jane Morgan-Daniel, AHIP

Community Engagement and Health Literacy Liaison Librarian
University of Florida
Gainesville, Florida

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Nancy Schaefer, AHIP

University Librarian
University of Florida
Gainesville, Florida

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Linda Struckmeyer

Clinical Assistant Professor
University of Florida
Gainesville, Florida

Dr. Linda Struckmeye, PhD, OTR/L is a Clinical Assistant Professor, Capstone Coordinator, and Academic Fieldwork Coordinator at the University of Florida. She holds a B.S. in occupational therapy from Washington University, an MA and a PhD in occupational therapy from Texas Women’s University. Dr. Struckmeyer has over 30 years of clinical experience working with older adults and families. Throughout her career, she has worked in home health care, school districts, head start, skilled nursing facilities, acute care, psych and assistive technology. Her research is primarily in the area of aging in place and home modifications, specifically for persons with dementia.

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Jason Beneciuk

Research Assistant Professor
Department of Physical Therapy, University of Florida
Gainesville, Florida

Jason Beneciuk, DPT, PhD, MPH is acting director of the Brooks Rehabilitation – College of Public Health and Health Professions (University of Florida) Research Collaboration. He is also a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Florida. His research interests include: 1) screening and assessment methods to identify patients with musculoskeletal pain at high risk for chronic pain; 2) psychologically informed physical therapy practice implementation and 3) quality improvement initiatives in outpatient physical therapy settings.

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