EAHIL, the European Association for Health Information and Libraries, run a standard conference one year followed by a workshop year the next. 2019 was a workshop year, which was held last month in the beautiful city of Basel. Alison and Morwenna went along with workshops to run and attend. This year the theme was fittingly Learn, Share, Act and Bridge Borders.

The workshop provides information professionals with a fantastic few days for professional development and networking. Topics covered include systematic review searching, open access, data management, library management, and teaching evidence based medicine. EAHIL was allegedly expecting around 200 people, but actually over 300 came and contributed. The popularity of this conference is catching on.

Due to high attendance and a packed schedule, it was not possible to experience all the highlights the conference offered, however, a summary of our take home messages is below:

  • Search filters/hedges are available from lots of different places. The ISSG has a comprehensive list of research papers and links out to many websites which have search filter details
  • Shared search ‘blocks’ are becoming accessible. These are mini search strategies for particular concepts that can be used in conjunction with other blocks to form a more specific search. They are different to search filters in that they are not validated but the feeling across several workshops was that they could be shared and made useful. More information can be found here:

Dutch search blocks               EAHIL search blocks

  • “We don’t work for acknowledgements” (from one of our workshop attendees). We are still struggling to get the message across that systematic searching requires professional search skills. If we develop and run the searches, let us write the methods sections, contribute to meetings and help draft papers.
  • Librarians should carry out peer reviews. There was little doubt that information professionals should review search strategies for systematic reviews before they are run, and there was discussion about whether we should more routinely peer review systematic reviews submitted to journals. Would this stop reviews with poor search strategies being published? Discuss…
  • Automation is continuing to help make mundane tasks more efficient. Check out the resources for automation in systematic reviews from the EPPI-Centre
  • Don’t recreate the wheel! Other institutions may have already developed resources that we can all use. For example, how to use EndNote and Excel to track results numbers for a PRISMA flow diagram as detailed here from the University of Calgary , or how to use EndNote for double screening from us here at the University of Exeter (other methods are available e.g. from Wichor Bramer).
  • We also learned about Springshare, a platform for libraries where you can create LibGuides among other things. The folk at the University of Calgary shared their work on this where they researched what others had published and created their own based on what had worked before. There was also some excitement about the LibGuide on systematic reviews by Monash University.
  • Journals have word limits, and search strategies are not always required in systematic review publications. You can get round this by depositing your search strategies and search methods as a document in an institutional repository, like Jane Falconer has done with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine data collection records
  • Many of us are keen to share information retrieval methods papers and a great site for this is SuRe Info.
  • EAHIL isn’t just for European information professionals. There were also colleagues from Russia, Canada, the United States and Australia (to name a few). It seems that many of us are having the same discussions and challenges.
  • There is an excellent resource provided by the National Library of Medicine called HealthReach which contains multilingual, multicultural and patient education materials.
  • Information folk love a word cloud
  • Swimming in the Rhine is a must do in Basel….just don’t forget your Wickelfisch!



“Just keep searching. Just keep searching. Just keep searching, searching, searching. What do we do? We search, search”

These resources were provided in the sessions. With thanks to Isla Kuhn and Tom Roper for sharing many of these links on Twitter