Evidence‐based Practice for Information Professionals: A Handbook

Susan Childs (Research Fellow, School of Informatics, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK)

Performance Measurement and Metrics

ISSN: 1467-8047

Article publication date: 1 April 2005




Childs, S. (2005), "Evidence‐based Practice for Information Professionals: A Handbook", Performance Measurement and Metrics, Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 57-58. https://doi.org/10.1108/14678040510588607



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

The idea of evidence‐based information practice has developed from the healthcare field, where evidence‐based medicine/evidence‐based healthcare has become an integral part of service delivery and a policy priority. This approach has extended into other disciplines, professions and public sectors. It seems, therefore, highly appropriate that evidence‐based practice, which uses the findings of research published in the literature and in other information sources, should also extend to the library information field. The two roles of librarians/information professionals in evidence‐based practice should be clearly distinguished. One important role is for librarians/information professionals to work with professionals in other disciplines or sectors to obtain, appraise and present the evidence to inform practice within the specific discipline or sector. The other role is for librarians/information professionals to use evidence to inform their own practice. It is this second role, that of evidence‐based information practice, which this book covers.

The book comprises three sections. Part 1 gives an overview of evidence‐based information practice covering its definition and history, followed by consideration of the range and quality of the evidence base in the library information field and why librarians do not use research to inform their practice. Part 2 covers the skills and resources needed for evidence‐based information practice: formulating questions, identifying sources of evidence, searching the literature, appraising evidence, applying evidence, evaluating personal performance, disseminating research results. Part 3 is the largest section covering how to use the evidence in practice. It is structured around Crumley and Koufogiannakis' six domains of evidence‐based information practice, i.e. reference/enquiries, education, collections, management, information access and retrieval, marketing/promotion. Each domain is introduced and then illustrated by one or more special topics or case studies.

The book does exactly what it says on the cover: provides a thorough, authoritative handbook to evidence‐based information practice. The strength of the book comes from the quality of the contributors, covering both academics and practitioners in the UK and other countries. The structure of the book is well thought out, covering theory, skills and examples. The chapters are short, easy to read with helpful section headings and supported by plenty of references to further reading. It is appropriate for both library information students and practitioners. For students, it would provide an important textbook for modules such as research methods or the information professional. For practitioners it would be a useful reference text to keep on their office shelves. As a handbook, it is most suited as a resource to dip into to answer a specific problem, such as how do I go about finding and applying the evidence to a current topic.

Part 2 could have benefited from a chapter about getting involved in primary research to close the evidence/practice loop. Such involvement could encompass commissioning research, sitting on project advisory boards, providing test sites for research projects and, finally, conducting your own primary research project. The aim of such a chapter would not be to duplicate books on research but to point readers towards such resources.

General signposting to aid navigation within the book, an important aspect for a handbook, could have been improved. There is a banner on the left hand page with details of the Part number but the font size and style is so similar to the rest of the text that it is easy to miss. Similarly, the different types of sections within Part 3, i.e. introduction to the domains and special topics, could have been more clearly differentiated as the variation did not come across on initial scanning. Using four models of evidence product, i.e. guideline, evidence digest, evidence briefing or critically appraised topic, to present the special topics was an innovative approach. However it would have benefited the user, both in reading the topics and for their own future practice, to have provided templates for these different evidence products.

These minor criticisms do not detract from the overall impression of an excellent and highly practical handbook. Definitely a book worth recommending.

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