For 2022, the European Association of Health Information and Libraries (EAHIL) brought us a hybrid conference. The in-person part was in the beautiful city of Rotterdam at the Willem Burger Complex.

We hope you enjoy the interviews below from two ‘newbies’, Claudia Kapp and Naomi Shaw, to the EAHIL conference and that it encourages you to join the Association and the conversation.

  • What institution are you from and what is your job?

CK: I work in the Information Management Department of a German HTA agency (IQWiG). Besides information retrieval tasks, I explore new tools to promote the automation of our processes for evidence synthesis and information retrieval.
NS: I’m an Information Specialist for two research groups based at the University of Exeter: PenTAG and the Health & Social Care Deliver Research Group (HSDR). For PenTAG, I support work on technology appraisals for the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE). For HSDR, I develop and run searches for a variety of different types of evidence synthesis – for example, our most recent project was the development of an evidence and gap map of peer support interventions in health and social care

  • Can you remember who introduced you to EAHIL?

CK: My supervisors introduced me to the conference and suggested to present a workshop together.
NS: My IS colleagues at the University of Exeter have been regular attendees at EAHIL conferences. I’d heard such good things from them about the event (and the people) that I wanted to come along too!

  • Did you present or help run a workshop and was it your first presentation at an international conference?

CK: I ran a workshop on R for librarians and information specialists (session 3.3) together with a colleague from IQWiG and another colleague from Pittsburgh, USA. It was my first presentation at an international conference.

NS: I did both! And it was my first time for each too. I helped Alison with a workshop on completing a search summary table (session 1.4). This was an excellent experience and gave us the opportunity to interact with information professionals working in varied areas from many different countries. It was helpful to get their insights on how they might use search summary tables to reflect on their own searching, and how this might affect our choice of bibliographic databases when searching for similar topics or updates, and to build on the evidence base on the value of supplementary search methods. I really liked the workshop format, and this felt much less intimidating than standing on the stage for my presentation the next day!
My presentation was the first of 7 in the afternoon Information Retrieval (session 4.2) in the giant Willem Burgerzaal space. I was very nervous about presenting, particularly in such a large venue, but people were very encouraging, and it was helpful to see lots of friendly faces in the audience! My presentation shared findings from our work evaluating the search strategies used for finding systematic reviews and RCTs for the evidence and gap map on peer support interventions.

  • Do you have any tips for new (or veteran) presenters?

CK: Do not hesitate to explain basic concepts. I always thought that people would feel insulted if I explained very simple concepts to them. But when listening to other presenters, I usually find it very helpful to receive a quick explanation on how a basic concept (e.g. specificity in information retrieval) is relevant in the specific context of the presentation.
NS: Practice as much as possible. Find a willing volunteer so you can talk through your slides out loud. (My husband Ed was made to listen to my talk and managed to stay awake throughout 😊). During the presentation, look for a friendly or familiar face in the audience to talk to, and…remember to breathe where possible!

  • Do you have any interesting take home tips or tools from the conference that you would like to share?

CK: The new tool for deduplication (“Deduklick”) (session 4.2) presented by Swiss colleagues from the University of Bern sounds really interesting. It was also great to hear that a Cochrane group from Austria successfully validated the study filter for non-randomized controlled trials (session 2.1) that was created by my colleagues at IQWiG.
NS: I made lots of lists of papers to read and new tools that I’d like to investigate further. I attended an excellent workshop facilitated by Claudia Kapp, Sarah Young and Elke Hausner, (session 3.3) and this has given me the confidence to take another look at some of the R packages that have huge potential to speed up parts of the evidence synthesis process. These include tools to support search strategy development (such as litsearchr), or exporting Google Scholar results (GS scraper). I’m also excited to try Deduklick for speedy de-duplication.
Also… Twitter was particularly helpful to follow presenters or to connect with new people I met at the conference. This is a great way to keep up to date with new research and developments in a rapidly developing field, and keep in touch with new EAHIL friends.

  • Do you have any suggestions on how to encourage new professionals to come along to an EAHIL conference?

CK: I obtain a lot of information on what’s going on via Twitter
NS: I would highly recommend new professionals sign up to join the EAHIL conference in Trondheim in 2023, and to consider presenting too. I found it to be a very supportive environment as a new presenter. A few new professionals I spoke to felt that they hadn’t participated in any serious formal ‘research’ and so didn’t have anything they could present, but I felt that some of the most useful and informative sessions were focused on sharing experiences of working on similar problems in different ways.

Thanks to Naomi and Claudia for their insights, hope to see you next year whether you are a newbie or a veteran.


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