It’s always a delight meeting librarians and other information professionals, particularly those with enthusiasm for learning more about systematic reviews. Our two information specialists (Alison and Morwenna) and one reviewer (Becca) were very happy therefore to travel to the Friends Meeting House in London last week where we taught our #BeyondSearching course in collaboration with Antonio Rojas-Garcia from North Thames CLAHRC to 19 enthusiastic health librarians, mainly from the NHS and universities, including one visiting from the Netherlands.

Beyond Searching first ran 5 years ago, and we have been running annual workshops ever since. This was the second year that the course followed a ‘flipped classroom model’, which Alison and Becca learned about during their visit to the University of Michigan two years ago. The model means that the attendees completed a series of online tasks, which included activities, reading and watching short video clips prior to the course, enabling us to concentrate more on small group interactive activities during the workshop teaching day.

Incidentally, the Friends Meeting House cannot be recommended highly enough. It is an affordable, pleasant teaching location in central London, and the level of service provided by the Meeting House staff was perfect. The room was well laid out with 4 large tables each with 6 chairs – ideal for the key small-group learning that we focussed the workshop around.


After an initial ice-breaker (where we discovered that among other things, delegates had interests in bee-keeping, tuneless choir singing and tap dancing), the workshop had a focus on systematic review searching including a comparison of the range of search strategies produced by attendees prior to the day and a session on using PRESS to assess a search strategy. We were also pleased to welcome guest speaker Claire Stansfield from the EPPI-Centre, who talked briefly about automation in reviews including text mining and machine learning and its implication for reviews in the future. Other activities included protocol and screening tasks, quizzes, numerous discussions based on various review-based scenarios and shared examples of ‘search and review’ clinic questions. And as always there was plenty of chocolate to go round.

We were delighted with the positive verbal feedback, including that from one librarian who was planning to use the knowledge she had gained to change practice in her own place of work, and another who thought that the flipped classroom model was excellent preparation for the face to face teaching day. “The best training I have ever attended” said a third – which always makes you think that the work involved in getting the workshop together has been worthwhile. #BeyondSearching was designed to show health information professionals that they already have the skills in place to effectively contribute to systematic reviews and hopefully give them confidence to get more involved in the processes and to advise others. It is always a pleasure to achieve this and we hope that the attendees got as much out of the day as we did.