Call for Papers: JMLA special issue on instruction in health sciences libraries

As the number of information resources increases, instructing users in the best way to find health-related information is becoming an even more essential role for health sciences librarians.  At the same time, the challenges to delivering instruction in an era of search engines and mobile devices have been steadily growing. Recognizing both the importance of instruction and the challenges we face in teaching our users, MLA’s incoming President, Gerald Perry, has announced his intention to create an MLA Academy of Teaching Excellence.   In support of this initiative, and to help create an evidence-based approach to improving instruction, the Journal of the Medical Library Association is planning to devote our October 2012 issue to papers that focus on providing instruction to users of biomedical information.

This issue, to be published in October 2012, will include invited papers summarizing the current state of the field.  We also encourage submissions from those with innovative approaches willing to share those innovations with their peers.   To be considered for this issue, papers must be submitted by February 15, 2012.

We particularly welcome submission of:

a. Brief Communications that describe an innovative instructional offering or teaching technique in a health sciences library, or to a group of biomedical library users.  Papers should describe the innovation, including a brief literature review as well as information on the background of the instructors and the nature of the target user group, where appropriate.  Data that allows the reader to judge the success of the innovation, such as pre and post tests and/or faculty evaluations, must be included with the submission.  Examples of papers in this category include manuscripts describing a new technique to teach Medline, a new online course, a new technique for engaging students, or an experiment in providing instruction via mobile devices.   Brief Communications are 1800 words or less.

b. Case studies that report on innovations related to developing and maintaining instructional programs in health sciences libraries.  Papers submitted in this category should describe an innovation that affected multiple classes or instructional offerings.  The manuscript should describe the problem the initiative was designed to solve, options considered and discarded, the setting in which it took place, the resources required to execute it (personnel, technology, etc.), the key characteristics of the program, and what would be required to sustain it for the long-term.  Examples for this category include initiatives designed to integrate instruction into the curriculum or to train librarians in the use of instructional technologies, methodologies to provide instruction to user groups with particular challenges (e.g. reaching nurses with busy schedules), techniques for keeping classes up to date, etc.   Data that allows the reader to judge the success of the initiative, such as user surveys, trends in class enrollments, or changes in the numbers or types of classes offered, must be included with the submission.  Case studies are 3500 words or less.

c. Full-length research papers investigating a research question related to instruction in health sciences libraries.  Research papers should use a standard quantitative or qualitative research design; quantitative studies should employ a sampling methodology that allows extrapolation to the larger population.  Examples in this category would be papers comparing results of two different teaching techniques or comparing online and in person instruction, or studying the long term effects of providing training to medical students.  There is a 5000 word limit for full-length papers.

To appear in this issue, scheduled for October 2012, papers should be received no later than February 15, 2012.  

 If you would like to discuss an idea for a paper, please contact Susan Starr, Editor, JMLA at  Further details on procedures for JMLA submissions can be found on our Information for Authors page,  

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