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September 7, 2020

Why the library loves checklists

Librarians love checklists – it’s a thing. Who doesn’t enjoy putting a tick next to a completed task? We use them for everything from event planning to design thinking projects, from tracking team meeting agendas to preparing for a lecture. We even have a suggested checklist for evaluating Open Education Resources in a teaching context.

There’s a whole book about the topic in our collection: The Checklist Manifesto: How to get things right. Gawande’s book demonstrates the value of checklists in a variety of scenarios, including a reflection on the outcomes of implementing a surgery checklist at eight diverse hospitals. Spoiler alert – this translated to a 36% reduction in surgical complications and a 47% reduction in deaths across hospitals.

Librarians are particularly keen to promote the use of checklists in research and writing. You might be familiar with ones like the CRAAP test for evaluating information that you want to use in assessments. We also recommend checklists in areas like reflective practice or citation analysis.

However, it’s in Health Research that getting to know and follow checklists is truly critical.

Want to know whether that randomised controlled trial has all the bits it should? There’s a checklist for that. How about checking the quality of that qualitative study? Yes, there’s a checklist for that too.

It can be overwhelming trying to sift through the studies that you find for your assignments and to work out which ones have been conducted well (sometimes, even poor studies get published). You can use appraisal tools such as the CASP Appraisal Checklists to check the quality of different study types, ticking off how well they meet the criteria.

If you’re doing your own systematic (or systematic-like) review, check out this checklist planner to help you cover off all the stages as you work through the process. Once you’ve completed your systematic search strategy, try using the PRESS checklist, which can help you review your search and iron out any errors.

As always, if you need any help using one of the checklists above, get in touch with your Liaison Librarian! We are more than happy to help.

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