On Saturday Aug 3, I was invited to deliver a lecture on Literature Searching at the Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai. This was at the 7th Annual Short Course in Clinical Research Methodology conducted on the 3rd and 4th of August. This is the first time I could be there early enough to attend from the inaugural talk onwards
There were a little over 140 participants and we were told that the registration is increasing annually. This seems like a great sign – many people getting interested in learning about research methods. The program began sharp on time at 9 AM and what I liked was that there was no waste in time with inaugural speeches, flowers and more. Dr Ashwini – I will call her the day’s program host in charge – started with a one minute welcome, followed by a talk by Dr Badwe, Director TMH. He also commended the organizers and audience for their punctuality and gave the inaugural talk about Research, where he made it more factual than a generalized talk.
After three other lectures – two by Dr Sudeep Shah (known for his blend of humour and awesome content) and one by Dr Sudeep Gupta I delivered my talk. I focused a little more on how to retrieve clinical trials and RCTs as this was a Clinical Research workshop
The two questions that came up were
Question 1: Does adding AND “randomized controlled trial”[pt] ensure getting all articles about studies that are RCTs none get missed out?
(This was based on my teaching that adding AND “randomized controlled trial”[pt] to any search string retrieves articles with studies that are RCTs)
My answer: No guarantee. Since the publication type descriptions are added by indexers, there can be indexing errors or bias. So if you simply want to retrieve a good no of RCTs, this is fine. But if you are wanting to retrieve them to do a meta-analysis for a systematic review – then there is a standard recommendation (You need to take the strategies for the “therapy” filter)
Question 2: Are the full texts in the Cochrane Library free to us?
Answer: – The full text of the Cochrane Systematic Reviews are free if we are inside the Indian borders, as the ICMR has paid for a country wide license. For the other 5 databases in the Cochrane Library, the abstracts are free. We would not have got them without this country wide license
I concluded my talk with a bit about QMed and announced our Next Mendeley workshop on Aug 24. It felt good when the next speaker, Dr. CS Pramesh of Tata Memorial said “I strongly recommend attending Vasumathi’s workshops. I have heard her talk so many times and every time I learn something new”
During the lunch break, I got to hear a line that I probably heard for the 578th time (I guess I am permitted some exaggeration, with experience) :
“We never knew that there was a methodology for searching”!
As usual – I had a reaffirmation of – We have “Miles to go before we sleep”