In preparation for my (and Dean Giustini and Francisco Grajales’s) workshop at the Cochrane Canada Symposium entitled “Using Social Media to Promote Evidence-Based Practice“, we have been pouring over literature, past presentations and other resources to figure out the best way to deliver a current and relevant workshop to the Cochrane community.
We met last night to discuss the various planning ideas that we had gathered so far for the workshop, and ended up having a great discussion on the biomedical blogosphere in general, and what, if any, roles the reflective learning and collaboration that blogs are so good at fostering play in the promotion and improvement of best evidence.
It’s true that in some fields, the amount of bloggers seriously taking a critical look at reviewing and synthesizing research literature may be thin (not every article gets the same treatment as the IBS/placebo study in PLoS One). No blogger can hope or aspire to replace the work that systematic reviews do in assembling, reviewing and appraising the state of the biomedical literature on a given research question. But they can promote discourse, even if it does not always bear directly on the improvement of a clinical treatment for a certain condition.
As we know, no evidence from a single source is complete. Certainly not from a celebrity blogger, but also not even necessarily from a world-renowned journal. One of the purposes that blogs serve is to equalize the publishing field, allow a commentary on certain (or any) topics and foster an overall engagement with evidence and practice that is simply not possible on another medium. Letters to the Editor may be the closest analogue but there are only so many published in any given issue, and, perhaps worse, they often face the same access restrictions that the full-text articles do. (Also, and this is an honest question: without a paper issue to flip through, do people read those anymore?)
I know we touched on more during our meeting, but I thought I would jot down these notes for now, leave them up to marinate for a month or so and see if my own or other reactions have changed at all between now and February. As we continue planning and I work this week on a one-pager about Twitter and EBM, there will likely be more ideas floating around.
- Laika’s MedLibLog. The Web 2.0-EBM Medicine split.  Introduction into a short series. April 1, 2009.
- Palepu A, Kahn N. Keeping up with the evidence. [PDF]. Canadian Society of Internal Medicine Annual meeting. October 27-30, 2010.
- Sciencebasedmedicine.org [great evidence-based blog]
- Workshop planning wiki page.