Trip Database Blog

Liberating the literature


April 2010

Open Access Education Initiative

TRIP’s recent work around supporting access to the evidence for low-resource settings (click here) has exposed TRIP to all sorts of new contacts and some amazing people/resources that are already involved in this field. The Open Access Education Initiative (Peoples-uni) is a great example and was designed to help build Public Health capacity in developing countries.

It uses open-source materials and a dispersed group of volunteer course developers, tutors and infrastructure support, to provide low-cost education for capacity building in Public Health. Over the past two years, it has been able to deliver an educational programme to those who cannot afford overseas student fees charged by most universities. The Peoples-uni has developed a set of course modules, which can be taken individually and used to gain a Certificate, Diploma (and soon a Masters) in Public Health.

Visit the site today (Peoples-uni) and learn much more.


stands for Today I Learnt That and is based on observations on how people have used the reflective elements of TRIP CPD. When you look at an article via the CPD/CME link (under each article) it opens the article with a reflective toolbar at the top of the page. This prompts the user to answer three questions:

  1. Why are you looking at this article?
  2. What did you learn from this article?
  3. How will you apply this in practice?

What we observed was how powerful and useful the middle answer tended to be. This was typically a clinician giving their account of the learning they had undertaken from reading the article. It struck us how powerful this information would be if shared.

TILT allows a user to record any learning they have undertaken (not restricted to TRIP articles). It might be any article they’ve read, a conversation with a colleague – any clinical learning. This is then recorded as a learning log. But the real beauty is that this learning can be shared with other users. In other words, they can learn from your learning and vice versa. Already, after just 3 days and around 10 recorded ‘learnings’ two clinicians have already learnt from others contributions.

Currently, this is a proof of concept model and at the end of the testing period (4-6 weeks) we’ll try and get a feel for the ‘worth’ of the model and make a decision on whether to take it forward or not.

If you’d like to get involved let us know via

Liability and the health librarian

While I’m not a librarian I’m clearly heavily involved in information. I’m also aware that a number of librarians read this blog, therefore I feel I should highlight the above article, written by Dean Giustini (click here to read the article).

Essential reading.

8,000 users

18 days after hitting 7,000 users we make it 8,000, at this rate we should hit 10,000 sometime in June.


I mentioned Aardvark in a previous post. Basically, it allows you to send questions to people who might know the answer. They seek to send questions to a users ‘extended social network’. I’m not sure how this is defined, but it’s probably based on the ‘friend of a friend’ principle. Google bought Aarvark a while ago (surely a vote of confidence) and have just started to roll it out on YouTube (click here for post).

I’d love this sort of service on TRIP and we could launch something similar. However, for this to work well we need to have a good idea where people’s expertise lies. Currently, the only details we consistently have on users is what their broad area of interest are (e.g. cardiology, oncology). If there are 100 questions covering cardiology topics – what’s the best way of getting them sent to people who may know the answer? If I had some expertise in, say, stable angina I would find it very off-putting to be asked to help answer questions on cholesterol, stroke, hypertension etc. What would be much better would be to send the user only questions relating to stable angina.

So, to do this requires some sort of profiling. In other words recording and trying to understand a user’s habits on TRIP and making assumptions based on their search terms, click-throughs etc. And, if we had a decent profile, as well as forwarding appropriate questions to them (assuming they’d be predisposed to answering them) we could arguably push new research, conferences, even jobs of interest.

It’s a big task to undertake and requires users to consistently login (to help assign behaviours to an individuals profile). However, I think it’s well worth the effort.

TRIP on Facebook

A quick update on the TRIP Database Facebook page – it’s doing really well.

We’ve currently got 233 ‘fans’ (a term I dislike in this context) and we’re having conversations all the time. I suppose, as I’ve said before, it’s another medium to reach out and ‘meet’ our users and to hear what they want.

If you’re not signed up already – go and visit and become a ‘fan’ today.

Open access

The juggernaut that is ‘open access’ continues to gain pace (or as they say in this Nature News article ‘The push to open up scientific knowledge to all looks set to go into overdrive’).

The article is a good introduction to the topic so I recommend you read it.

TRIP thrives on linking to high quality open access content but we need to embrace it even more. I can’t help thinking that auto-searching PubMed Central (not forgetting the UK equivalent) would be a good ‘next step’ for us.

But can we help in other ways? If you have any ideas, let us know.

TRIP Answers

I’ve just been looking back and TRIP Answers has only been around for 16 months (but still had well over 1 million page views), it seems like it has been with us for much longer. Perhaps 16 months is a good time for a ‘makeover’, which is what we’ve done with the site. The changes include:

  • Re-designed homepage to make it more dynamic.
  • Simplified the look and feel of each answer.
  • Introduced a ‘related articles’ panel which pulls back articles from the main TRIP Database which are similar to the actual Q&A. This is especially useful for older Q&As as it helps to show if there is any new research.
  • Significantly improved the search, it now uses the same system as found on the TRIP Database.

Lots of other smaller changes to improve the site.

Go take a look and let us know what you think.

Blog at

Up ↑