Health and Science Twitter & Blog Top 50 and 100 Lists. How to Separate the Wheat from the Chaff.

24 04 2012

Recently a Top 100 scientists-Twitter list got viral on Twitter. It was published at*

Most people just tweeted “Top 100 Scientists on Twitter”, others were excited to be on the list, a few mentioned the lack of scientist X or discipline Y  in the top 100.

Two scientist noticed something peculiar about the list: @seanmcarroll noticed two fake (!) accounts under “physics” (as later explained these were: @NIMAARKANIHAMED and @Prof_S_Hawking). And @nutsci (having read two posts of mine about spam top 50 or 100 lists [12]) recognized this Twitter list as spam:

It is surprising how easy it (still) is for such spammy Top 50 or 100 Lists to get viral, whereas they only have been published to generate more traffic to the website and/or to earn revenue through click-throughs.

It makes me wonder why well-educated people like scientists and doctors swallow the bait. Don’t they recognize the spam? Do they feel flattered to be on the list, or do they take offence when they (or another person who “deserves” it) aren’t chosen? Or perhaps they just find the list useful and want to share it, without taking a close look?

To help you to recognize and avoid such spammy lists, here are some tips to separate the wheat from the chaff:

  1. Check WHO made the list. Is it from an expert in the field, someone you trust? (and/or someone you like to follow?)
  2. If you don’t know the author in person, check the site which publishes the list (often a “blog”):
    1. Beware if there is no (or little info in the) ABOUT-section.
    2. Beware if the site mainly (only) has these kind of lists or short -very general-blogposts (like 10 ways to….) except when the author is somebody like Darren Rowse aka @ProBlogger [3].
    3. Beware if it is a very general site producing a diversity of very specialised lists (who can be expert in all fields?)
    4. Beware if the website has any of the following (not mutually exclusive) characteristics:
      1. Web addresses like,,, (watch out com sites anyway)
      2. Websites with a Quick-degree, nursing degree, technician school etc finder
      3. Prominent links at the homepage to Kaplan University, University of Phoenix, Grand Canyon University etc
    5. Reputable sites less likely produce nonsense lists. See for instance this “Women in science blogging”-list published in the Guardian [4].
  3. When the site itself seems ok, check whether the names on the list seem trustworthy and worth a follow. Clearly, lists with fake accounts (other then lists with “top 50 fake accounts” ;)) aren’t worth the bother: apparently the creator didn’t make the effort to verify the accounts and/or hasn’t the capacity to understand the tweets/topic.
  4. Ideally the list should have added value. Meaning that it should be more than a summary of names and copy pasting of the bio or “about” section.
    For instance I have recently been put on a list of [b], but the author had just copied the subtitle of my blog: …. a medical librarian and her blog explores the web 2.0 world as it relates to library science and beyond.
    However, sometimes, the added value may just be that the author is a highly recognized expert or opinion leader. For instance this Top Health & Medical Bloggers (& Their Twitter Names) List [5] by the well known health blogger Dean Giustini.
  5. In what way do these lists represent *top* Blogs or Twitter accounts? Are their blogs worth reading and/or their Twitter accounts worth following? A nobel price winner may be a top scientist, but may not necessarily be a good blogger and/or may not have interesting tweets. (personally I know various examples of uninteresting accounts of *celebrities* in health, science and politics)
  6. Beware if you are actively approached and kindly requested to spread the list to your audience. (for this is what they want).It goes like this (watch the impersonal tone):

    Your Blog is being featured!

    Hi There,

    I recently compiled a list of the best librarian blogs, and I wanted to let you know that you made the list! You can find your site linked here: […]

    If you have any feedback please let me know, or if you think your audience would find any of this information useful, please feel free to share the link. We always appreciate a Facebook Like, a Google +1, a Stumble Upon or even a regular old link back, as we’re trying to increase our readership.

    Thanks again, and have a great day!

While some of the list may be worthwhile in itself, it is best NOT TO LINK TO DOUBTFUL LISTS, thus not  mention them on Twitter, not retweet the lists and not blog about it. For this is what they only want to achieve.

But what if you really find this list interesting?

Here are some tips to find alternatives to these spammy lists (often opposite to above-mentioned words of caution) 

  1. Find posts/lists produced by experts in the field and/or people you trust or like to follow. Their choice of blogs or twitter-accounts (albeit subjective and incomplete) will probably suit you the best. For isn’t this what it is all about?
  2. Especially useful are posts that give you more information about the people on the list. Like this top-10 librarian list by Phil Bradley [6] and the excellent “100+ women healthcare academics” compiled by @amcunningham and @trishgreenhalgh [7].
    Strikingly the reason to create the latter list was that a spammy list not recognized as such (“50 Medical School Professors You Should Be Following On Twitter”  [c])  seemed short on women….
  3. In case of Twitter-accounts:
    1. Check existing Twitter lists of people you find interesting to follow. You can follow the entire lists or just those people you find most interesting.
      Examples: I created a list with people from the EBM-cochrane people & sceptics [8]. Nutritional science grad student @Nutsci has a nutrition-health-science list [9]. The more followers, the more popular the list.
    2. Check interesting conversation partners of people you follow.
    3. Check accounts of people who are often retweeted in the field.
    4. Keep an eye on #FF (#FollowFriday) mentions, where people worth following are highlighted
    5. Check a topic on Listorious. For instance @hrana made a list of Twitter-doctors[10]. There are also scientists-lists (then again, check who made the list and who is on the list. Some health/nutrition lists are really bad if you’re interested in science and not junk)
    6. Worth mentioning are shared lists that are open for edit (so there are many contributors besides the curator). Lists [4] and [7] are examples of crowd sourced lists. Other examples are truly open-to-edit lists using public spreadsheets, like the Top Twitter Doctors[11], created by Dr Ves and  lists for science and bio(medical) journals [12], created by me.
  4. Finally, if you find the spam top 100 list truly helpful, and don’t know too many people in the field, just check out some of the names without linking to the list or spreading the word.

*For obvious reasons I will not hyperlink to these sites, but if you would like to check them, these are the links




  1. Beware of Top 50 “Great Tools to Double Check your Doctor” or whatever Lists. (
  2. Vanity is the Quicksand of Reasoning: Beware of Top 100 and 50 lists! ((
  3. Google+ Tactics of the Blogging Pros (
  4. “Women in science blogging” by  (
  5. Top Health & Medical Bloggers (& Their Twitter Names) List (
  6. Top-10 librarian list by Phil Bradley (
  7. 100+ women healthcare academics by Annemarie Cunningham/ Trisha Greenhalgh (
  8. Twitter-doctors by @hrana (
  9. EBM-cochrane people & sceptics (Twitter list by @laikas)
  10. Nutrition-health-science (Twitter list by @nutsci)
  11. Open for edit: Top Twitter Doctors arranged by specialty in alphabetical order (Google Spreadsheet by @drves)

A Library without Librarians? The Opinion of a PhD-Librarian on the Jeffrey Trzeciak Controversy

20 04 2011

It is only recently that I heard about the controversial speech of Jeffrey Trzeciak, Chief Librarian at McMaster University, at Penn State University.

Jeff seemed to have said incredible offending things about traditional librarians.
Things like “the library of the future gets rid of librarians in favor of people who actually earned their doctorates.” and
“Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach. Those who can’t teach become academic librarians.
(Sense and Reference)“.

These statements almost resulted in a new gate: McMastergate (Confessions of a Science Librarian) or Trzeciakgate (ACRLog). According to  the Annoyed Librarian  “The offending part of the talk can be found at slide 56, where the McMaster librarian says that in the future he will be hiring no more traditional librarians. Instead, he’ll be hiring PhDs and IT people, because (as the Annoyed Librarian adds): “PhDs are better than MLSs at being librarians!” .

O.k. Lets look at slide 56:

His words were not sharp. Each statement is softened somewhat with the words “Likely” and “Unlikely”. Furthermore the title says ” New Hires“. More importantly he introduces the slide by saying. “We did a lot of new hiring the last years. We are unlikely in the future to hire new librarians. We probably hit our max” …. (emphasis mine) Etcetera.

Have all those furious librarians bothered to listen to the entire speech or do they rely on one annoyed librarian as their source?

As a matter of fact I find the annoying annoyed librarian far more offensive towards library PhD’s than Jeff is towards traditional librarians. He/she says for instance:

Possibly they can connect better with faculty members, having the same degree and all, but the relationship will always be onesided. Tenured faculty played the game and won. Librarians with PhDs played the game and lost. There’s a difference….”

So PhD-librarians are always  inferior, unmotivated librarians and failed scientists?  Well let me tell you: working for many years as a post-doc, I switched to a library job, for positive reasons. I was looking for a permanent job too, but as stated elsewhere I find the librarian job far more rewarding. I love it and I think I am good at it (just like my non-PhD colleagues by the way).

I have listened to the entire presentation (available here). Not with great attention though, because – in spite of the controversial topic- the monotonous soft voice and the endless lists of bullets didn’t engage me. In fact I really missed a “real conceptual view”. Somewhere (slide 40-42) Jeff says:

“We didn’t spend a great deal of time talking about  vision and mission, we just want to get it done. We didn’t want to over-analyze it. We want to just pick a direction and go for it. We felt that the survival of the academic library was dependent upon our ability to start acting upon something. So we just started saying “Yes, thank you”. If the dean (…) asked if we were willing to do X, Y and Z, our response was just “Yes thank you”, whether or not we actually thought it would fit into the traditional library definition.”
….”We spend a lot of our time and effort in integrating technologies throughout the library, whatever that might be, whether it was for a Facebook-page, we experimented with Second Life a little bit… we did a lot with You Tube, we still are…..” (emphasis mine)

That is not a well underpinned vision. It doesn’t sound convincing either. It just sounds as if fate decided the direction of the McMaster University Library.

What else did Jeff say?

He started: “Do not fear to be eccentric, for every opinion accepted was once eccentric.”  That was a warning.

Next he explained why transformation of the (his) library was necessary: the (McMaster) library was in state of decline, it was disconnected from the campus and there was/is a funding challenge. The major challenge is the perception of the library. (Well, that won’t  be unique).

Innovations were:

  • Add new blood.
  • 1/3 less staff (for budgetary reasons, mostly through retirement)
  • Eliminate cataloging (which in Jeff’s words does NOT mean elimination of librarians but reallocation staffing to public services, with -as a result- at least one librarian blossoming in new function).
  • Eliminate reference and circulation desk
  • Create new media center, meant to engage students with gaming suites
  • Reallocate budget, buying games
  • Less face to face services
  • Emphasis on Special Collections (like 20 years of radio/advertising). Therefore likely to hire more IT and do more research.
  • more likely to have PhD ‘s on staff bc of New Media/Web design. Recently graduated PhD’s are able to develop strong ties, want to do something different.
  • Achieved: (examples) more space allocation to users, less to materials. More diverse skill set. Increase in foot traffic. New media center. Robotic scan machine (gift) for digitization of unique collection.

As far as I can tell, he was not (or didn’t mean to be) offensive. He never said that PhD’s or IT-people were any better than MLS-librarians. He never said that he would replace librarians by academic people. He only aimed to “add new blood”, enthusiastic new graduates “fit” for new specialist tasks to add to his staff. Nothing wrong with that. How his management affects his staff and his library in reality, I can’t tell.

According to Michael Furlough, who gives a thoughtful inside look into the situation, there have been previous controversies about his management style and specific staffing decisions at McMaster.

The UTlibrarians go further by revealing that:

“Last time that Jeff Trzeciak openly turned on his staff, we saw they (McMaster-library staff) were forced to separate from their association with McMaster University Faculty Association and form a separate union to represent their interests. Furthermore they explain: “here, at the University of Toronto we have a 30-year old MoA and a Librarian’s Policy that offers faculty and librarians less protection that the USW collective agreement offers its employees at the University of Toronto.”.

As a  PhD librarian, do I agree with Jeff? Well only in so far that PhD- and IT- and perhaps a bunch of other people could be a very welcome addition to the library. It is not always necessary to add them to your staff. Sometimes cooperation with an other department will do. I love to work with a freshly graduated problem-solving (medical) IT person full of new ideas, who can fulfill dreams I can’t realize because I miss the skills.

I also think that PhD’s might have some special skills and qualities that may be an advantage for some tasks. But so have “traditional” librarians.

At ACRLog they stress that “a good part of what Jeff said was hardly new, innovative or revolutionary”. He is also not the first to hire PhD’s. As  a matter of fact, the special CLIR PostDoctoral Library Fellows Program encourages just this.

Indeed, Our Dutch Academic Libraries are also hiring more researchers and/or PhD’s with or without a special post-doc library education. Our medical library now has two former scientists, and it is not excluded that more might be hired in the future.

What surprised me the most in Jeff’s talk was that he was so outspoken, without good arguments. It also surprised me that his approach seemed to be applied to each and every faculty library.
Our libraries are all very different. At one faculty books and cataloging are very important, in another electronic databases, yet another’s main task is heritage digitization (they would love the robotic scan machine). Some libraries have mainly students as clients, other scientist, others clinicians, yet others a mix of those.

I cannot imagine that engaging students with gaming suites and playing around a little with web 2.0 tools  should be the ultimate goal of all libraries. I don’t agree that the library should be like a museum, a conference center or a lab, like Jeff proposes.

As a matter of fact, at our hospital are already abandoning the idea that all teaching material for medical students should be *fun*, in the form of games. Students don’t want to game, unless it is functional. They want to pass their exams in the first place, and become doctors in the second.

Our medical library goes through many phases the McMaster university has gone through. Our emphasis is on facilitating access to relevant information, on education and on searching. We have noticed a shift towards more complex, extensive searches for systematic reviews and guidelines. Thus, our librarians are now becoming the “added value”, not the techniques. We think we meet the needs of our customers the best that way.

I wonder whether the medical library of McMasters, famous for its critical appraisals and search filters (PubMed clinical queries) would now concentrate on gaming or museum function only. As a matter of fact, it is hard to imagine.

Thus I mainly disagree with Jeff in that he just picks a direction and goes for it (and think PhD’s do the job wherever he goes). He might enter a road with one end blocked off . PhD’s wont save you once you go wrong….


If you like to read more on the topic, John Dupuis at Confessions of a Science Librarian -like a true librarian- compiled  a list of blog reactions in chronological order

I would like to especially recommend the following blog posts:

Related Articles


19 04 2011

I did not attend TEDx Maastricht (you have to be invited)*, but I followed it with one eye on Twitter.

TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience: ideas worth spreading. This special TEDx event was held April 4th in the beautiful city Maastricht an had as central theme: The Future of Health.
TEDx Maastricht was an initiative of Lucien Engelen, Director of the Radboud REshape & Innovation Centre. I have attended the Zorg2.0-event Lucien organized in Nijmegen in 2009 and I can imagine the inspiring atmosphere of this larger scale TED-meeting.

There is a special website for TEDxMaastricht, with two tabs showing the program and the videos. There is also a mash-up by the VPRO

Links to videos, photo’s, interviews, a mindmap, social mentions and more can be found at a  Netvibes page, compiled by the Dutch (Tech) Librarian Guus van den Brekel.

Another Medical Librarian, Bianca Kramer, gave a summary of all talks with links to the videos at the Dutch “Medisch team UBU” blog: see part 1 and 2. Especially recommended for Dutch people.

Here are a few talks I selected, mainly chosen because of what others said online.

In the TEDx, like the Zorg2.0 meeting, the patient is central. Thus lets start with the patients.

I was very much impressed by the talk of Sophie van der Stap – “Girl with the nine wigs”. Apart that she “performs” very well, she has a moving and heartwarming story.  At the age of 21 years she was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. When she became bold, because of the chemotherapy, her wigs provided a “medicine”, because it made her feel happy and strong again.

“I know that in the Medical world the focus is on the pills, the tests and the surgery site of cancer. However I do hope that my story inspires you to share it with your patients to find their own cancer holiday” 

Perhaps the most well known e-patient is David deBronkart, better known as “e-patient Dave”. He shares what he went trough as an almost dead patient, and how he found out what e-patient (really) means. His motto: Patient is not a third person word & The patient is the most underutilized resource in health care. January 2007, Dave was diagnosed with kidney cancer at a very late stage. His doctor “prescribed” a patient community site: :

“They very quickly told me Kidney Cancer is a not common disease, get yourself to a specialist center, there is no cure, but there is something that sometimes works, that usually doesn’t, called high dose interleukin. Most hospitals don’t offer it, so they won’t even tell you it exists. And don’t let them give you anything else first and by the way here are 4 doctors in your part of the US that offer it and here are their phone numbers…..”

There is no (other) website that gives you this info: Patients know what patients want to know!

Here is the complete video with more examples what e-patients stand for and don’t miss his rap act: Give me the data! (It is my live to save)

An other noteworthy video comes from Salmaan Sama, a medical student from Amsterdam, who lost his passion and drive in his study (it was all about medicine, physiology etc), but who regained it: At TEDx he presents a new initiative: cmpassion for care based on the TD-price winning initiative of Karen Armstrong.

The first statement of the charter:

We believe everyone has the capacity to be compassionate: to treat others as you would wish to be treated. To be kind and tender, generous and forgiving, hospitable, helpful and attentive, curious, listening and present, empathic and connected, respectful, understanding and acknowledging. It takes courage, self-reflection and self-compassion.

You can sign the charter here.

Next I would like to mention the talk of the very compassionate neurologist Bas Bloem, entitled “from God to Guide”. In the must-see video he actually plays both God and Guide. Earlier I have blogged about “Bas Bloem’s” project Parkinson Net (5). I’m really impressed by such a doctor who is able to translate ideas into reality.

Another Dutch physician (neurosurgeon) Pieter Kubben talked about a subject close to my heart: EBM tailored to the patient (i.e. see my posts, refs 7- 10). What does a patient expect when he visits a doctor (besides compassion): the best available treatment! “Best”, according to the EBM-evangelist Sackett, is scientific evidence combined with physician experience and patient preference.
PubMed is the most used information source for biomedical information. This information is increasing to what the WHO calls: “no do gap”. Unlike what people think (especially policy makers) EBM is not restricted to class I evidence (RCT’s and meta-analyses): class II and III evidence count as well. RCT’s may show which treatment may be “better”, but it is not tailored to the patient. Pieter thinks decision supportive systems, which tailor the information to the physician and the patient, might offer a solution.
In an article in the main Dutch medical journal, the NTVG, Piet Kubben explains that such a support system is unlike cookbook medicine. Freely translated:

What is the problem? If I make lasagna and follow a recipe, there a good chance that the result will be edible. I can leave ingredients, or add some, but when I do I have a reason for it. Decision support is no decision making. You can make another decision and sometimes you should..

Pieter has  made 3 free apps for the I-phone: ‘NeuroMind’, ‘Safe Surgery’ en ‘SLIC’. NeuroMind, an app meant to support decision making in neurosurgery is listed in the widely cited “Top Apps” on We can thus assume that Pieter knows what he is talking about and that he can set realistic goals.

Daniel Kraft gave a dazzling presentation about hall kinds of web savvy future tech solutions.

Health 2.0 talks often (over)emphasize the role of technology in health care. Wouter Bos, former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance provided the antidote for this belief in his “back to earth” speech“We should cherish the technology, but it won’t change rising healthcare costs.”  “In health care, if there is a new technique, medicine available, we WANT it”.
Well it was a talk we can expect form an invited Party Pooper. But he made a good point.

Note: I was inspired to write this post because of the theme of the current Medical Grand Rounds held at the blog of the Schwartz Center with the theme “Patient Centered Care”. This post would fit in well. Unfortunately I only thought of it, when the deadline had past. 😦 So instead of them linking to me I will link to the published Grand Rounds instead.


* This appeared a mistake. You have to be invited, but you should at least register, which I forgot….

  1. TEDx Maastricht webcast in Darwin #tedxmaastricht (
  2. TEDxMaastricht – Hope in technology and participatory medicine (
  3. TEDx Maastricht – The Future of Medicine (
  4. TEDx Maastricht – and we’re part of it… (
  5. Web 2.0 and Health Care Reform: Two Dutch Examples (1) (
  6. E-Patients and I-Patients (
  7. How will we ever keep up with 75 trials and 11 systematic reviews a day (
  8. The best study design for dummies (
  9. Notsofunny: ridiculing RCTs and EBM (
  10. The Web2.0-EBM Medicine Split [1] Introduction into a short series (

Friday Foolery #39. Peer Review LOL, How to Write a Comment & The Best Rejection Letter Evvah!

15 04 2011

LOL? Peer review?! Comments?

Peer review is never funny, you think.
It is hard to review papers, especially when they are poorly written. From the author’s point of view, it is annoying and frustrating to see a paper rejected on basis of comments of peer reviewers, who either don’t understand the paper or thwart you in your attempts to get the paper published, for instance because you are a competitor in the field.

Still, from a (great) distance the peer review process can be funny… in some respects.

Read for instance a collection of memorable quotes from peer review critiques of the past year in Environmental Microbiology (EM does this each December). Here are some excerpts:

  • Done! Difficult task, I don’t wish to think about constipation and faecal flora during my holidays!
  • This paper is desperate. Please reject it completely and then block the author’s email ID so they can’t use the online system in future.
  • It is sad to see so much enthusiasm and effort go into analyzing a dataset that is just not big enough.
  • The abstract and results read much like a laundry list.
  • .. I would suggest that EM is setting up a fund that pays for the red wine reviewers may need to digest manuscripts like this one.
  • I have to admit that I would have liked to reject this paper because I found the tone in the Reply to the Reviewers so annoying.
  • I started to review this but could not get much past the abstract.
  • This paper is awfully written. There is no adequate objective and no reasonable conclusion. The literature is quoted at random and not in the context of argument…
  • Stating that the study is confirmative is not a good start for the Discussion.
  • I suppose that I should be happy that I don’t have to spend a lot of time reviewing this dreadful paper; however I am depressed that people are performing such bad science.
  • Preliminary and intriguing results that should be published elsewhere.
  • Reject – More holes than my grandad’s string vest!
  • The writing and data presentation are so bad that I had to leave work and go home early and then spend time to wonder what life is about.
  • Very much enjoyed reading this one, and do not have any significant comments. Wish I had thought of this one.
  • This is a long, but excellent report. […] It hurts me a little to have so little criticism of a manuscript.

More seriously, the Top 20 Reasons (Negative Comments) Written by the Reviewers Recommending Rejection of 123 Medical Education Manuscripts can be found at Academic Medicine (vol 76, no . 9 / 2 0 0 1). The top 5 is:

  1. Statistics: inappropriate, incomplete, or insufficiently described, etc.  11.2 %
  2. Overinterpretation of the results 8.7 %
  3. Inappropriate, suboptimal, insufficiently described instrument 7.3%
  4. Sample too small or biased  5.6 %
  5. Text difficult to follow, to understand 3.9%

Neuroskeptic describes 9 types of review decisions in the The Wheel of Peer Review. Was your paper reviewed by “Bee-in-your-Bonnet” or by “Cite Me, Me, Me!”

Rejections are of all times. Perhaps the best rejection letter ever is written by Sir David Brewster editor of The Edinburgh Journal of Science to Charles Babbage on July 3, 1821. Noted in James Gleick’s, The Information. A History, a Theory, a Flood

Excerpt at Marginal Revolution (HT @TwistedBacteria):

The subjects you propose for a series of Mathematical and Metaphysical Essays are so very profound, that there is perhaps not a single subscriber to our Journal who could follow them. 

Responses to a rejection are also of all ages. See this video anno 1945 (yes this scene has been used tons of times for other purposes)

Need tips?

Read How to Publish a Scientific Comment in 1 2 3 Easy Steps (well literally 123 steps) by Prof. Rick Trebino. Based on real life. It is Hilarious!

PhD comics made a paper review worksheet (you don’t even have to read the manuscript!) and gives you advise how NOT to address reviewer comments. LOL.

And here is a Sample Cover Letter for Journal Manuscript Resubmissions. Ain’t that easy?

Yet if you are still unsuccessful and want a definitive decision rendered within hours of submission you can always send your paper to the Journal of Universal Rejection.

Friday Foolery [35] A Benzene Smiley

1 10 2010

A chemical professor by the Twittername of @Takaguchi (Tak), who describes himself as a “Chemist loving nanocarbons, supramolecules, main group elements, photoreactions, and photoproperties has this Twitter Avatar:

A benzene smiley…


First seen at the Facebook Fan Page ( login required?) of (of David Bradley)

He referred to a post at The Reactive Chemistry Blog of …. uhhh again David Bradley, who is also the author of ScienceText

BTW I seem to smile /give thumbs up at David’s ScienceBase Facebook page a lot: I’m one of his top 13 Facebook fans (or likers) ever.
It is no surprise with so many funny ànd good science and tech articles.


MedLibs Round. Update & Call for Submissions

2 04 2010

Some news about The MedLibs Round, the monthly blog carnival of blog posts on subjects pertaining to Medical Information.

A new LOGO.

Perhaps you remember that I was looking for someone who could design a logo for this blog carnival.

And you know what. Robin has offered to do so for free!

Robin is wonderful woman and the author of two great blogs I follow: Survive the Journey ( and 365 days with Cushing’s Disease ( The latter blog documents the life of a Cushing’s Disease patient and survivor with pictures.

Of course Robin needs some help. What should the logo look like? Any ideas?

A New Name?

A new spring, a new sound (Herman Gorter’s May). Thus,  a new logo, a new name?

The name MedLibs Round suggests it is blog carnival purely meant for medical librarians and that is not the case. Or at least it is not what I had in mind, when starting this round. This blog carnival is about medical information. Sure, medical librarians play an essential role, but I would like an exchange of thought between those who need and those who search the medical information (not mutually exclusive).

And I was also thinking, if we made a more appealing name it might be easier to make a logo (not only consisting of a book).

Most suggestions consist of “Medical Information” (instead of MedLib) and Round, Ring, Circle or Carnival. Similarly, MIR stands for Information Round (or Ring) [& can be depicted as Myrrh] etc.

Not very original, so if you have better ideas, and especially more appealing ones, this is your chance.

In fact it just needs to be clear. Like Gene Genie ( was clearly about Genes and Genetic Diseases.

(you need not be a contributor to this round to cast your vote)

Past & upcoming MedLibs Rounds

The last MedLibs Round was hosted by Michelle Kraft at the Krafty Librarian. You can read her compilation here.

Next months we have again a wonderful bunch of people hosting the round: In May and April the EBM blogs  The Health Informaticist (link), followed by EBM and Clinical Support Librarians@UCHC (link),

But first we will welcome Nikki Dettmar of Eagle Dawg (moved to as a host once again. She is eagerly awaiting your submissions.
Officially the deadline is tomorrow night, but we don’t mind you enjoying your Easter Holiday first.

Please don’t forget to submit your post(s) (the URL of the post on your blog) here.


13 12 2009

The next Grand Rounds will be hosted by Barbara Olson of Florence dot com. The theme will be Simplify, identical to the theme of the annual conference of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement in Orlando. We are invited to share what’s on our mind about any healthcare-related topic indicating with one word why it is important.

My word is Empathy, because it is a versatile,  important skill doctors should have (besides knowledge and technical expertise to name a few other important skills). Empathy is especially important with vulnerable patients, the old and very young.

It strikes me that pediatricians are often very kind and pleasant doctors. They know how to ‘handle’ kids. GP’s also have to deal with kids a lot, but they’re often less patient and kind. At least that applies to our GP. I have had various issues with him, although never outspoken. He is a good doctor, but can be rude at times.

This is a funny story.

Once upon a time, we had to regularly visit our doctor, because my daughter, then 4 to 5 years old, had all kinds of small complaints.

Once she had (innocent) warts. He had to scrape them, but because my daughter found this painful, we had to pretreat the warts with EMLA plasters that numb the skin. I had to do that at home, but the plaster at the inner side of her knee had loosened after a half our walk to the doctor’s practice. He grumbled that I didn’t do it right and that I had to come back another time, meanwhile hard-handedly removing the other warts, forgetting half of them. My daughter didn’t enjoy the scrapings, the corners of her mouth trembling in her attempts not to cry.

After most of the warts had been removed, the doctor took a big flat box with all kinds of little presents, he obviously gave to children at the end of the ordeal.

“Here. You can choose a present!”

My daughter looked at all the minute presents, pondering which one to choose.

There were a lot of rings, with blue stones, red stones, pink stones. There were necklaces, little toys, games….

“Choose one”.

She choose a ring with a pink stone. But wait, that blue ring was nicer and she returned the ring with the pink stone .

But the little patience my doctor had was at an end.

He grabbed something from the box and put it into my daughter’s hand: “Here!”

It was a simple round cardboard with the most silly sheep drawing I have ever seen. With open mound my daughter received the present. Speechless she stared at the gift.

The doctor gestured we could leave the room. He apparently met his obligations with the gift.

With the door handle in my hand, I saw my daughter making a sudden turn. She took one last look at the sheep to throw it as an experienced pitcher straight at the doctor’s desk.

We heard a loud “Well, I never!”, when we left the room.

Added 2009-12-15:

Summary by Barbara at

Jacqueline at Laika’s MedLibLog captures the arachnoid spirit, giving her post a one word title: empathy. The post shows how much we long for care that considers more about who we are than our “chief complaint” often reveals. If Jacqueline had been in the mood to spin longer, she could have called this post, “What comes around, goes around!”
Hit the nail on the head, Barbara!

Photo Credits:

“You are a lamb”, adapted from: / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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Ik laat m’n liedjes nou maar zwerven….

1 12 2009

Ramses Shaffy is vandaag gestorven….

……Zijn liedjes zijn onsterfelijk, zij zwerven door….

Ik ben misschien te laat geboren,
of in een land met ander licht.
Ik voel me altijd wat verloren,
al toont de spiegel mijn gezicht.
Ik ken de kroegen, kathedralen,
van Amsterdam tot aan Maastricht.
Toch zal ik elke dag verdwalen,
dat houdt de zaak in evenwicht.

Laat me, laat me
Laat me m’n eigen gang maar gaan.
Laat me, laat me,
Ik heb het altijd zo gedaan.

Ik zal m’n vrienden niet vergeten,
want wie me lief is blijft me lief.
En waar ze woonde moest ik weten,
maar ik verloor hun laatste brief.
Ik zal ze heus nog wel ontmoeten,
misschien vandaag misschien over een jaar.
Ik zal ze kussen en begroeten,
komt vanzelf weer voor elkaar.

Laat me, laat me
Laat me m’n eigen gang maar gaan.
Laat me, laat me,
Ik heb het altijd zo gedaan.

Ik ben gelukkig niet verankerd,
soms woon ik hier, soms leef ik daar.
Ik heb m’n leven niet verkankerd,
Ik heb geen bezit en geen bezwaar.
Ik hou van water en van adem,
ik hou van schamel en van duur.
Er is geen stuiver die ik spaarde,
ik leef gewoon van uur tot uur.

Laat me, laat me
Laat me m’n eigen gang maar gaan.
Laat me, laat me,
Ik heb het altijd zo gedaan.

Ik zal ook wel eens een keertje sterven,
daar kom ik echt niet onderuit.
Ik laat m’n liedjes nou maar zwerven,
en verder zoek je het maar uit.
Voorlopig blijf ik nog jouw zanger,
jouw zwarte schaap jouw trouwe fan.
Ik blijf nog lang en liefst nog langer,
laat me blijven wie ik ben.

Laat me, laat me
Laat me m’n eigen gang maar gaan.
Laat me, laat me,
Ik heb het altijd zo gedaan.

Laat me, laat me
Laat me m’n eigen gang maar gaan.
Laat me, laat me,
Ik heb het altijd zo gedaan.

Ik had dit nummer al geblipt, en Lukas Koster had het al geyoutubed.

Toen zag ik het nog op ZB Digitaal staan en dacht: toch ook even op mijn blog. Ik wil er niet aan voorbij gaan.

Bedankt Ramses!

Medlib’s Round 1.8. Call for submissions

5 11 2009

Highlight HEALTH will be hosting the next edition of the MedLib’s Round Blog Carnival, edition 1.8, next week on Tuesday, November 10th.

Walter Jessen of Highlight Health:

The Highlight HEALTH Network promotes health literacy by presenting reliable, credible sources of health and medical information. As such, the theme for this month’s edition of MedLib’s Round is Finding credible health information online. As host, I invite you to send your submissions.

The MedLib’s Round Blog Carnival is a monthly blog carnival of the best articles in medical librarianship. With Walter, I would like to stress  that the carnival is not restricted to librarians – anyone can submit as long as the post is relevant and of good quality. If you have an article on medical librarianship, PubMed, evidence-based medicine, information literacy or Web 2.0 tools, submit your article here. Highlight Health will give priority to those posts that focus on finding credible health information online.

Please submit your article no later than Monday Wednesday, November 9 11th at 04:00:00 UTC (12:00pm CST) at

Receive e-mail notification when MedLibs Round 1.8 is published.

An archive of all previous editions of MedLibs Round is listed at the MedLib’s Archive on Laika’s MedLibLog.

Are you a Twitter user? Tweet this!


The original announcement appeared at Highlight Health

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The New PubMed: Trick or Treat?

31 10 2009

31-10-2009 8-53-21 the new pubmed entry

The New PubMed: Trick or Treat?

After a long days work, when looking at the screen,

there it was: PubMed’s new interface, so it seemed,

But one blink – and it had gone

To come back the following dawn.

The change itself was long announced,

we could play with the new “Advanced”.

Still I postponed and procrastinated,

Pointless: the new PubMed couldn’t wait

any longer, but this Redesign isn’t it for me….

Sure, the front page looks web-2-ish, minimalistic & clean,

which is perfect for the Google-Generation,

the hurry-don’t think-just-slash-i-got-one-publication-

PhD’s, for whom all alterations have been made. 2989360212_882aff28d8 trick or treat

Some people think you just have to wait

& see and get used to it.

but I’m already fed up with it.

I know you all think it is just a Librarian-rant.

Librarians they can stick with the new “Advanced”,

“Advanced” however, is just Limits & Index…

But boy did they make this page look complex!

Sure, the basic researchers seem to be quite pleased.

Busy physicians too, they think it is more easy.

They tell me librarian not to wine:

Go MEDLINE OVID! we stay with this design.”

This is no new idea, didn’t you know:

I long seek refuge in OVID MEDLINE, although1810987271_9044fb5ca0 candy

only for exhaustive searches, that much is true.

So why -having this alternative- am I still feeling blue?

Well, I’m not complaining for myself, but for you.

I don’t speak as a searcher, but as a teacher too.

It is so frustrating that I have to explain to you

that each step you take is now multiplied by two.

NLM says all functionalities are still there.

The problem is you have to find where

I don’t mind the present front page,

but the so called “Advanced” gives no advantage,

at least not for doctors searching evidence.

I teach them “Googling doesn’t make sense“.

Just choose the most important concepts,

work from the History and search words separately.

Begin to find the MesH-terms, and although it is complex

add textwords too, to find papers not yet indexed.

Combine synonyms with “OR” and concepts with “AND”,

Go to the Clinical Queries and use the appropriate command”..

But now it takes so many steps. It is a BIG FAIL

sometimes. You start at the front page, look at the Details,

mapping is wrong, go to Advanced, scroll, scroll, scroll..

to Mesh, “send to Pubmed”, where am I? out of control,

again on the Start page? Go to Advanced again.

Away with Limit and other boxes! – I don’t need them!

The Index yields a MeSH that doesn’t exist?!

Darn, via automatic mapping the multi-term-word is split

in 3 separate words, complete out of context,

as I see In the Details -so I have to re-enter them,

And where have the Clinical Queries gone?

Right, have to scroll the entire “Advanced” page… Yawn…

While it is true that I’m a “bit” exagerating,

my point is that the new PubMed creation

could have been so much better:

not only the functionality, the route also matters.

The redesign is a missed opportunity,

to build an entire new PubMed you see.

The interface is still quite orthodox.2946761628_2eb3e8b009 bittersweet

I want clickable and movable boxes

with MESH in clouds thru which you can “walk”

and Clinical Queries that you can drag and drop

with a mapping tool-you can adjust,***

and savings of your settings, that is  a must.

“But the new PubMed”, you ask me

“what is it: a-trick-or-a-treat?”….

“It looks like a nicely wrapped candy,

but tasting a bit bittersweet?!”


* These links come from Eagle Dawg-blog: Pubmed: All in the attitude

** doesn’t apply to quick and dirty searches on the front page

*** i.e. allow to split or not

Photo Credits:

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Cochrane 2.0 Workshop at the Cochrane Colloquium #CC2009

12 10 2009

Today Chris Mavergames and I held a workshop at the Cochrane Colloquium, entitled:  Web 2.0 for Cochrane (see previous post and abstract of the workshop)

First I gave an introduction into Medicine 2.0 and (thus) Web 2.0. Chris, Web Operations Manager and Information Architect of the Cochrane Collaboration, talked more about which Web 2.0 tools were already used by the Cochrane Collaboration and which Web 2.0 might be useful as such.

We had half an hour for discussion which was easily filled. There was no doubt about the usefulness of Web 2.0 for the Cochrane in this group. Therefore, there was ample room for discussing technical aspects, like:

  • Can you load your RSS feed of a PubMed search in Reference Manager? (According to Chris you can)
  • How can you deal with this lot of information (by following a specific subject, or not too much people – not many updates on a daily basis; you don’t have to follow it all, just pick up the headlines, when you can)
  • Are you involved in a Wiki that is successful? (it appears very difficult to involve people)
  • What happens if people comment or upload picture on facebook (of the Cochrane collaboration) in an appropriate way (Chris: didn’t happen, but you have to check and remove them)
  • How do you follow tweets (we showed Tweetdeckhashtags # and #followfridays)
  • What is the worst thing that happened to you (regarding web 2.0)? Chris and I thought a long time. Chris: that I revealed something that wasn’t officially public yet (though appeared to be o.k.). Me: spam (but I remove it/don’t approve it).
    Later I remembered two better (worse) examples, like the “Clinical Reader” social misbehaviour, a good example of how “branding” should not be done, and sites that publish top 50 and 100 list of bloggers just to get more traffic to their spam websites

Below is my presentation on Slideshare.

The (awful) green blackgound color indicates I went “live” on the web. As a reminder of what I did, I included some screendumps.

The current workshop was just meant to introduce and discuss Medicine 2.0 and Cochrane 2.0.

I hope we have a vivid discussion Wednesday when the plenary lectures deal with Cochrane 2.0.

The answers to my question on Twitter

  1. Why Web 2.0 is useful? (or not)
  2. Why we need Cochrane 2.0? (or not)

can be found on Visibletweets (temporary) and saved as: (permanent selection).

I think it would be good when these points are taken into account during the Cochrane 2.0 plenary discussions.

* possible WIKI (+ links) might appear at

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Friday Foolery #6 Man-to-Man-Hug

9 10 2009

General Etiquette: How To Give A Great Man To Man Hug

Hattip: @precordialthump (Twitter)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “How To Give A Great Man To Man Hug (C…“, posted with vodpod

Of Art & Medicine

5 10 2009

The topic for Pallimed’s edition of Grand Rounds will be the ‘Art of Medicine/Nursing’ which may be interpreted “as you like, kind of like art.”
Pallimed reviews current palliative medicine, hospice, end-of-life research and seems to have a particular interest in Art, as there is a separate tab about Arts:

Is Medicine an Art?

My first cents: Medicine is art as much as homeopathy is science. Homeopathy can be presented as science, but that is something else.

However….. the definition of ART may be ambiguous? I assumed ART is like Wikipedia defined:

Art is the process or product of deliberately arranging elements in a way that appeals to the senses or emotions. It encompasses a diverse range of human activities, creations, and modes of expression, including music, literature, film, sculpture, and paintings. The meaning of art is explored in a branch of philosophy known as aesthetics [I]

But in the Merriam-Webster dictionary definitions of (the noun) art include (II):

skill acquired by experience, study, or observation, for instance <the art of making friends>.
a branch of learning:
an occupation requiring knowledge or skill <the art of organ building>

“Art” is derived from the Latin word “Ars”. We all know the Ars Amandi, the art of Love. So, yes, art does mean skill here.

And surely Medicine is an Art, if we mean Art in the sense of skill, not (i.m.o.) in the sense of personal creativity and creations.

Geneeskunde or Geneeskunst?

The Dutch use several words for medicine.

  • “Medicijnen” is used for the study.
  • For the profession (and study) they use: Geneeskunde, where genees=’heal‘ and kunde = ‘skill’
  • But there is also a word Geneeskunst, and that can be best translated as the “art of healing” which comes closes to meaning I.

There is inaugurational speech devoted to “Geneeskunde or Geneeskunst”, where Geneeskunst can almost interpreted as a more holistic approach to medicine. In the book Medicine and Law book (H. Nijs, 2005) it is highlightened that even the law uses these terms inconsistently (see Google Books).

In my opinion medicine is geneeskunde, it is a skill.

Medicine in Art,

There are lot of examples of “Medicine in Art”. A famous example is the “Anatomy Lesson” a painting of Rembrandt van Rijn (of Nicolaes Tulp) (1632). It embellishes the homepage of our hospital, the Academic Medical Center (AMC) in Amsterdam.

Our hospital has many works of art, and many expositions. See here for the collections (Dutch). The expositions in our library aren’t even mentioned here.

Art in Medicine

Art is a way to express oneself. For patients, art is an excellent medium to fight their illness or cope with it. At the very least it can be a distraction or a consolation. When hospitalized for breast cancer surgery my mother made me a glazed bonbonnière and I cherish it (normally she wouldn’t have the patience).

There are many forms of art suitable for patients: writing, poetry, music, singing, handcraft, painting etc.

At our library, clinical librarian Heleen Dyserinck organizes regular exhibitions by people (often staff) from the AMC. There may be  paintings, sculptures or photo’s of  people, objects or nature, but also of medical subjects.

Currently Renate Beatrice has an exposition in our library. Her paintings are grouped in several corners. Near my room are paintings of 4 girls, 3 of which are shown below. When I first saw the pictures, they frightened me. I didn’t like them. These are not -so to say- pictures that you hang in your living room.

Later I understood why I found these pictures sinister. The girls try to laugh, but they look unhealthy and sad: it is as if they have the death in their eyes.

Stil later I learned that Renate had a metastatic Wilms’ tumor at the age of 4. She had to spend a lot of time in the hospital and here the doctors Voute † and  Kraker were her herous. Renate is cured, has 3 children, and is an artist. A lot of her pictures are cheerful.  Renate held this exhibition for a special occasion: in honor of the retirement of dr Kraker.

She says:  I don’t paint children in hospitals, because I pity them. no, I paint them because I know them by heart: for years I’ve been one myself. (freely translated from her website)

2-10-2009 18-15-54 schilderijen

inaugurational speech