As a professional hospital librarian who has worked extensively with many nurses planning and performing research, I read with interest “Searching for Proof: Creating and Using an Actionable PICO Question” by Clare Hastings, PhD, RN, FAAN, and Cheryl A. Fisher in the August issue. The authors' tip to consult with the librarian is appreciated, but suggests that simple ownership and retrieval of resources is our main purpose. They make clear how complicated conducting a search can be: choosing and combining terms, focusing or broadening results, and evaluating resources. Creating, structuring, refining, expanding, and organizing literature searches is what we librarians do—day in, day out—in multiple databases and resources on an endless variety of topics. This is precisely where your institutional librarian can be most valuable.
We can show you how to select databases and search terms; how to map, explode, and combine them; and how to limit, refine, and focus. We can help you identify a well-designed, credible study and recognize “throwaways.” In our familiarity with the literature that we troll every day, we can even recognize when your PICO(T) question itself may need some tweaking to be sure you're able to find the information most useful to the issue you're investigating.
One good session with your librarian can save you hours of keywording, Googling, and skimming, and help you collect the right resources with the right focus. We're so much more than interlibrary loan!
Julie Stielstra, MLS