Friday, December 21, 2007

Google Quick Tip #4

Admittedly, I have never been very good about remembering how to convert measurements, be it for weights, distances, temperatures, or any other item that would need converting every now and again.


Google has a great conversion feature that makes converting measurements a cinch.

How many degrees Celsius is 104.1 degrees Fahrenheit? 104.1 f in c

How much is 550.75 miles in kilometers? 550.75 mi in km

How many tablespoons are in 4.25 cups? 4.25 cups in tbsp

How much is $250 US dollars worth in Thailand?

250 USD in Thai currency

The "operator" term that makes these conversions possible is the word in , connecting the two units that you are trying to convert.

The system is pretty clever, so be bold and see what other things you can convert. A good way to pass some time when you're on Google!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Constructing Better Multiple-Choice Test Questions

Do you lie awake at night because your students' exam scores have gone down and you worry that, maybe, just maybe, your test questions were not up to par? Or is it just time to polish up some of those tried and true exam questions that you've been using for the past 10 semesters?

The hero to the rescue for building strong multiple-choice test questions is the Contructing Written Test Questions For the Basic and Clinical Sciences manual produced by the National Board of Medical Examiners.

There are four sections that cover:

1) Issues regarding format and structure of test questions
2) Writing one-best-answer questions for the basic and clinical sciences
3) Extended-matching items
4) Additional issues (with appendices)

There is a PDF of the entire manual available. If you prefer not to print all 180 pages out at once, you can also view each section individually.

Faculty at the Univ of Pennsylvania School of Medicine also put together a 38-slide powerpoint presentation based on this manual and used it as part of a faculty development series.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Super Searching Website

I've put together a website called Super Searching that summarizes not only the basics of literature searching, but also covers advanced literature searching skills.

Features to explore:
  • PubMed searching
  • Citation tracking
  • Tidbits - currently a collection of suggested PubMed search terms that relate to medical education research

There are links to video demonstrations of what is being described, so be sure to check those out.

Soon to be added will be tips on how to search specific education databases for more literature that you can find about teaching and learning in the broader scope of education that is outside of medical education.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Rediscovering Missing Websites

How many times have you gone to a website that used to work, but when you try to access it the next time, you get an error message stating that it does not exist anymore?

Don't worry, there are two ways that are equivalent to waving a magic wand to get the old webpage to suddenly reappear.

INTERNET ARCHIVE (aka "The Way Back Machine")
1) Pop the URL that you are trying to access into the search box that looks like this 2) Click on any of the dates that represent when the site was last archived

GOOGLE CACHED (best used when you get taken to the inactive link via a Google result)

Select the Cached link below the result and you'll be taken to the last time the page was archived

Go ahead and give it a try. You can use these tools to check out any website, not just ones that don't seem to exist anymore.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

JoVE - a video journal

Hang on to your hats...there's a journal that is completely video based and online!

JoVE is a fantastic collection of short videos that go over basic and advanced laboratory techniques. I highly recommend this resource for anyone who is doing bench research or just interested in finding out what goes on in research labs.

Pop some popcorn and sit back and prepare to be educated!

Faculty 2.0 (article)

Wondering how to keep up with teaching the new generation of learners - those techno-savvy students who populate your classrooms?

Check out this article: Faculty 2.0. Hartman, JL. (2007.) EDUCAUSE review, 42(5), 62-76.

Much has been written recently about the Net Generation--the generation (roughly twelve to twenty-five years old) that makes up the majority of students attending U.S. colleges and universities--but relatively little attention has been given to the college and university faculty who teach them. Faculty roles and the processes of teaching and learning are undergoing rapid change. The three traditional roles of college and university faculty are teaching, research, and service, with the relative emphasis on each varying by institutional type and mission. Among the three roles that are undergoing change, teaching and research are being most significantly altered by technology. Although research and publication are undeniably important components of the professional lives of many faculty members--for some, they form "the" most important component--the authors are focusing here on the less-visible changes brought about by technology in the teaching and learning space and on how these changes are fundamentally reshaping the processes and tools associated with the institutional structures, extending to the roles and responsibilities of campus IT leaders and organizations.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Google Quick Tip #3

Need a quick way to find the definition of a word? Forgotten what an acronym stands for?


Google provides an easy way to find definitions of words, acronyms, and even phrases. Simply typing in define: followed by the word or acronym will pull up definitions from several sources on the web. This is by no means the most reliable way to find the exact definition of a word, but it is definitely a quick way to get a sense of what a word or acronym means. View this short video that demonstrates how to use this shortcut.

define:soap note

If you need to quote a more reliable online dictionary for a definition, use something like or the Oxford English Dictionary.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Tip for Whiteboard Teaching

For those of you who like to use the whiteboard to aid in teaching, there is the once in a blue moon occurrence of accidentally writing on the board with a permanent marker instead of the dry erase markers. Yikes!

Not to worry though...if there is a spray bottle with ethanol (alcohol) near the whiteboard, you can use that to erase the permanent marker.

BUT in the unfortunate event that you don't have ethanol nearby, this video shows a quick alternative to removing permanent marker ink from a whiteboard.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Wikis, blogs, and podcasts

What's all this buzz about "Web 2.0"? This catch phrase is already becoming "so yesterday", but the main thing to know is that the next phase of communication tools on the web are now giving educators a chance to take advantage of their teaching potential. For example, this blog you're reading has been set up as a way for me to be able to teach you search tips even though we may never meet each other.

In case you have just come back from a trip to the moon, here are some quick definitions:

WIKI - a website that houses documents that can be shared and edited by those with password access

BLOG - a website that has archived postings that allow for readers to comment on the content

PODCAST - an archived online audio or video broadcast

Subscribing to a blog/podcast's RSS feed allows you to keep up with newly added material. There's also a quick way to subscribe to a blog/podcast in a Firefox browser.

A 2006 article details ways medical educators have been using these collaborative tools:

Boulos, MN, Maramba, I, & Wheeler, S. (2006). Wikis, blogs and podcasts: a new generation of Web-based tools for virtual collaborative clinical practice and education. BMC medical education, 6, 41-.

Stay tuned... I'll be posting links to interesting wikis, blogs, and podcasts relating to medical education. For starters, there is a Medical Education blog created by University of Saskatchewan faculty.

Be sure to check out the UCSF Library's webpage focusing on medical information blogs.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Google Quick Tip #2

Would you like a YouTube for PowerPoint presentations? It doesn't exist yet, but the next best thing is creating a Google search to look specifically for PowerPoint presentations.


Use the phrase filetype:ppt to find a PowerPoint presentation. We could create a search phrase in Google to find PowerPoint presentations that deal with innovations in medical education, specifically developed by an educational or government organization.

filetype:ppt innovations "medical education" (site:edu OR site:gov)

  • filetype:doc finds Word documents
  • filetype:xls finds Excel files
  • filetype:pdf finds PDF files.

EXTRA TIP: Putting "quotation marks" around a phrase looks for that exact phrase.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Medical Blogs

Blogs have evolved to offer a wealth of information that can be used for educational purposes. Gone are the days of purely tapping into the personal diaries of the blog's author (aka, the blogger).

Here is a compilation of several medical information blogs that offer useful information in the categories of:

Images and clinical cases > Law and ethics > Medical education > Medical journals > Medical technologies > Doctor diaries and medical specialties > UCSF blogs

Monday, August 13, 2007

PubMed Quick Tip #3

How to find what articles an author has published

Using the PubMed Single Citation Matcher is a fast way to find the publications that are in PubMed by a particular author.
  1. Connect to the Single Citation Matcher feature in the left menu bar of PubMed

  2. Begin to type in the author's last name and then first initial

  3. A list of possible authors to choose from will appear

  4. Select the author that you are looking for and run the search

The example below is how we can search for articles in PubMed published by J.M. Bishop

The results cannot be guaranteed to be the full listing of the author's publications, but it sure is a fast way to get to a good list of an author's publications listed in PubMed.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

"Medical Education Online" journal

The Medical Education Online journal is published solely on the web and does not have a print subscription. A very nice advantage of this journal is that you can access all of its articles for free. Now you can't beat that price!

Explore the options in the green menu bar. You can browse the issues under "Articles", access letters to the editor, book reviews, and resources. Some great tools available in this "Resources" section are:

Also take a look at the articles published in 2007. There is a new feature below each article, "View the comments on this article" below the abstract. See what other readers have to say about the article.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Managing Your References

As you start to find interesting articles, you want to make sure you have a place where you can store these citations since you went through the hard work of searching for them.

RefWorks is a popular tool to manage your citations. And, if you are a UCSF faculty, staff, or student, you can set up an account for free because the UCSF Library has a site license for RefWorks. There is a great tutorial to help you get started.

EndNote is the most well-known bibliographic management software. If you are affiliated with UCSF, you get a discount if you purchase it from the UCSF Technology Store. There are helpful tutorials that walk you through how to use it

These types of software not only allow you to store your citations in one place, but when you are writing a paper, you can access your citations and insert the references as you write. Once you start using bibliographic management software, you won't believe that you were able to live without it all these years!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Google Quick Tip #1

Raise your hand if you think searching Google is fast, efficient, and relevant. I'd keep my hand up for fast and efficient, but I would hesitate to say that a basic Google search can always give you relevant results.

Luckily, there are some nifty tricks that you can use to refine your Google searches so that it does not feel like you are searching for a needle in a haystack.

Restricting a search to websites from universities, government agencies, or organizations can be a quick way to start narrowing your search to get more reliable sources

For example, if you type in the following search into Google, you will find government websites that have information on innovations in medical education. (Click on the link to see the results)

So use site:edu, site:gov, site:org to find education, government, and organizational websites.

We can create a slightly fancier search by using the following idea of connecting similar ideas with the word OR and grouping these with parentheses.

Comprehensive Lit Searching in Three Steps

So you want to know how to make sure you've covered enough literature searching to feel confident that you have found good stuff ?

Follow these three steps as a guideline to making your searches more comprehensive:

(1) Run a search in PubMed to find articles that you find helpful for your research topic

(2) Run a search in the Science Citation Index to see who else has cited the papers you found in PubMed

(3) Run a web search, ie, in Google Scholar to find additional resources that you did not find in the other databases

In step #1, you could also be searching other databases in place of or in addition to PubMed, such as:

Monday, July 2, 2007

Places to Submit Your Medical Education Projects

As your research and projects progress, you may find yourself just itching to share with the world the learning materials you have created . The resources listed below are good places to browse and see what other types of online learning are out there.

These are some great places to consider submitting your online learning materials projects (ie, online tutorials, videos, images, slides, etc) :

MedEd Portal - this is a AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) database that contains peer-reviewed online learning modules. Create a free account to view the full materials.

Merlot - stands for Multimedia Educational Resources for Learning and Online Teaching . This database contains online learning materials that include topics outside of medicine, as well as the health sciences.

Heal - stands for Health Education Assets Library. This database contains images and other learning objects that are used for medical education.

ERIC - an Education Database

It's always a good idea to explore what other research has been going on in the field of education in general. You may be able to apply what's happening in other fields to medical education. Cross-pollination of ideas is always a good thing.

The ERIC Database is an ideal database to look for other education literature.

Using the Advanced Search feature is the best way to search ERIC.

In addition to articles, you also get access to conference proceedings, book materials, and documents. These additional types of literature are not found in PubMed. Many of the medical education articles DO overlap with those in PubMed.

Who has Cited an Article

When you've found an article that looks like it has some great information, it's helps to know who else has cited this paper.

Knowing who has cited a paper can lead to other papers that you may not have found in your literature searching.

The Science Citation Index (aka the Web of Science) database is an ideal resource to use.

- use this icon on the Science Citation Index homepage

(1) Enter the author's name and year of publication & run the search

(2) Look for the corresponding journal that published the article & select the View Record link for that listing to get to the abstract

(3) Select Times Cited to get a listing of other articles that have cited this paper

Saving a Search in PubMed

Once you've formulated a search that is giving you a good set of results related to your topic, you definitely want to save it so that you don't have to recreate the search from scratch each time you go to PubMed.

PubMed has an online tutorial to show you how.

The Library also has some quick tutorials demonstrating how to save a search using RSS Feeds:

PubMed RSS Feeds - Learn how to save a PubMed search so that you can view updates at any time.

Firefox Live Bookmarks - Learn a convenient way to view RSS updates in a Firefox browser.

How to Subscribe to a Journal's Table of Contents Using PubMed

It's super convenient to have PubMed email you the latest table of contents of a journal that you want to track. This beats going to the publisher's site every month to check on what's in the latest issue.

Follow these quick steps:

(1) Connect to the Single Citation Matcher link in the left menu bar of PubMed

(2) Start to type in the journal title you want to track & select the title that matches & hit "Go"

(3) On the next screen, click on the Save Search link that's to the right of the search box

(4) Sign into your My NCBI account (you can set one up for free under Register)

(5) Select Yes to receive email updates

(6) Set the Maximum number of records to send to 100

PubMed Quick Tip #2

How to Find MeSH terms Assigned to a Particular Article

Every article in PubMed is assigned MeSH (medical subject heading) terms to help classify the topics of a paper.

Knowing the MeSH terms assigned to an article you are interested in can help you refine your search.

Select the Citation Display of an abstract that you find interesting. MeSH terms will appear below the abstract

Saturday, June 30, 2007

PubMed Quick Tip #1

Use the [ti] or [ab] tag to find a specific word or phrase in the title or abstract of a paper

Advanced PubMed Searching in Four Steps

Here's a sample research question:
"Do medical students benefit from peer mentoring?"

A possible search phrase could be:

students, medical AND peer group AND (mentors OR teaching OR learning)

Like to know how to get your searches to be short and to the point?

(1) Think of how you can break your research question into multiple concepts

(2) Connect the concepts with the appropriate Boolean operator (AND, OR, NOT - these must be capitalized)
AND - connects different concepts
OR - connects synonyms / similar concepts
NOT - excludes a concept / word

(3) Find the Medical Subject Heading (MeSH) terms assigned to an article
* MeSH terms are assigned to every article in PubMed to help classify the topics of a paper
* Select the Citation Display of an abstract to see the MeSH terms for that article

Use MeSH terms to build more complex searches

Friday, June 29, 2007

Popular Medical Education Journals

Here are some of the most widely read journals in the field of medical education. These are ideal journals to browse online (requires campus or VPN connection) to learn more about hot topics in medical education. These also give you ideas of where you might want to publish your research one day.

Academic Medicine

BMC Medical Education

Clinical Teacher

JAMA (September Medical Education issues - 2006 -- 2005 -- 2004 )

Medical Education - also check out their May & Nov issues for the "Really Good Stuff" section

Medical Teacher

Teaching & Learning in Medicine

Other medical specialty journals:

Academic Emergency Medicine

Advances in Health Sciences Education

TIP: Use PubMed to have the table of contents of these journals sent to your email or RSS reader.