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NDSU health sciences librarian to study alternative medicine resources

Merete Christianson, NDSU health sciences librarian, participated in the Institute for Research Design in Librarians, hosted earlier this month by Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. She was one of 20 librarians from around the county to attend the institute through a Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program Continuing Education Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

The institute is designed to help librarians pursue research projects that benefit both their home institutions and the library profession.

Christianson and the other participants spent a week learning about and practicing fundamentals of library research, including in-depth interviews, focus groups and surveys along with tips and tools for data analysis and writing for peer-review. In addition, participants’ individual research proposals were refined so librarians could begin work upon returning home.

Christianson’s research project will explore how health sciences librarians make collection development decisions about resources on the topic of complementary and alternative medicine, known as CAM, which includes everything from yoga and chiropractic to homeopathy and energy healing. While popular among consumers and some health care professionals, many CAM therapies are not supported by scientific research.

An institute mentor, as well as instructors and colleagues from the in-person program, will help Christianson throughout the coming months as she conducts her research. Institute scholars are expected to have a finished product at the end of the year, such as a published, peer-reviewed article or conference presentation.

Christianson hopes the work will guide her own collection decisions when purchasing materials for students and faculty at NDSU in the College of Health Professions and the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences. In addition, she aims to apply her findings to a larger discussion in the library profession about what librarians can do to combat widespread misinformation.

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