Our information specialists, Alison and Morwenna, spend a fair amount of time either teaching search skills, or thinking about how to improve methods of teaching search skills. It’s a tricky art requiring regular changes to the content and delivery depending on the audience and their experience, and ensuring that we keep up with a rapidly changing world.
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The PRESS checklist is more commonly used for peer reviewing electronic search strategies; it provides a set of recommendations for use by librarians and other information specialists when they are asked to evaluate these strategies. But could it be used also to teach search methods?
On a grey and rainy Sunday morning at 9am, around 15 delegates at WWGS turned up to PRESS a search strategy. Most of those who attended had some searching experience so we were able to skip bits they knew already and we got into some very detailed conversations about field searching, proximity searching and floating subheadings. We were a vocal group and used this time to share our experiences (good and bad) and offer solutions and suggestions to each other.
Going through the items on the checklist one by one against some published systematic review searches turned out to be a really useful way of engaging with everyone, provoking lots of search related questions and giving us all a useful learning experience.
The workshop demonstrated the usefulness of the PRESS guideline as a tool for appraising and helping to design search strategies. But also, for anyone involved in teaching about search methods for systematic reviews, using the PRESS guidelines as a checklist is a really useful and relatively easy way on demonstrating this in a hands-on workshop. So come on everyone – let’s get PRESSing!