Academic journal article
By Wessel, Charles B.; Tannery, Nancy Hrinya; Epstein, Barbara A.
Journal of the Medical Library Association , Vol. 98, No. 1
The unanticipated death of a healthy research study volunteer at a major university highlighted the importance of a comprehensive and exhaustive literature review in conducting responsible research [I]. When this unfortunate event was investigated, it became evident that many researchers who perform literature searches have little guidance about what constitutes an appropriate or sufficient search to support human subject research. The researcher in that study had completed a basic search of MEDLINE and recent texts but had not conducted an extensive search, thereby missing relevant published research [2, 3]. After many of its members conducted literature searches themselves, the committee assigned to investigate this event found it was divided on what constitutes a sufficient literature search to support human subject research .
The Medical Library Association (MLA) recommended development of standards for literature searching to help institutional review boards assess the quality and comprehensiveness of literature searches in studies under review, and the association developed a policy statement on the role of expert searching in the health sciences [5-7]. Ln an article published long before this unfortunate event, Cullen and Mason decried the lack of standards for health sciences literature searching:
medical researchers are not required to account for the rigor of the literature review in the same way as they are required to account for experimental design, methodology and accurate reporting of findings in the research report which it precedes. They are trained in science but not in the bibliographical structure of their own discipline. 
To address this educational need, the Health Sciences Library System (HSLS) at the University of Pittsburgh developed "Responsible Literature Searching for Research: A Self-Paced Interactive Educational Program (RLS)" in 2003, with funding from the Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries (AAHSL), through a cooperative agreement between the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the Office of Research Integrity (ORI), US Department of Health and Human Services . The project was proposed in response to a request for applications from ORI and AAMC for initiatives to promote the responsible conduct of research, including development of an online curriculum module.
RLS is an instructional tool aimed at teaching clinical researchers the fundamentals of effective literature searching for research practice. The program is self-paced, allowing users to work through the program with no restrictions on pace or order. The program consists of nine chapters with didactic information, practice guidelines, examples, and supplementary materials, and it includes tests and quizzes to measure knowledge gained. The RLS program objectives are to teach and describe generally accepted practices and principles associated with the biomedical literature search process. These practices and principles include appropriate use and limitations of major information resources, guidelines for responsible literature searching, HSLS resources and services available to support the literature search process, role of reference librarians in this process, and best approaches for specialized topics such as drug safety and identification of adverse events.
Because the module is based on principles applicable in most research-oriented settings, the cooperative agreement with AAMC/ORI specified that the content be freely available to other academic health sciences libraries and medical centers to adapt to their local settings and resources.
An advisory committee of experienced medical reference librarians · from major institutions (Yale University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, George Washington University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the Medical College of Georgia libraries), as well as eight HSLS reference librarians, evaluated the RLS content and test questions before deployment. …