Mapping studies

Perryman, Carol L.
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Medical Library Association

When I first read about evidence-based practice, I had several thoughts. The first was a somewhat horrified question: Does this mean that medical care has not been based on research? The second question was that if we intend to build a better knowledgebase for this and other professions, how could that happen, if the base (existing research) was not itself evidence based? The image of a house built on sand would not leave my mind.

Throughout the history of librarianship, we have focused our sights on continual improvement. For at least the last twenty years, evidence-based practice has provided an evolving roadmap to increasing awareness of quality and to moving forward using the best, most appropriate, and most rigorous methods we know. To build our base and support decision making, increased awareness of research methods can help to retool a rapidly changing profession.

One such research method is the mapping study, also called a mapping review. Reviews of all kinds are done to gather information to build a base for further research or to inform decision making, and this is equally true of mapping. In the literature of medical librarianship, the best-known examples of mapping studies follow a protocol created in 1993 (updated in 2010 and currently under review) by members of the Medical Library Association (MLA) Nursing and Allied Health Resources Section (NAHRS) Subcommittee on Mapping the Literature of Nursing and Allied Health. Two broad initiatives have been supported by NAHRS to map the literature of nursing and allied health, and task force members have provided the evolving protocol [1] and other support to researchers—members of the task force and beyond—in order to expand the work.

Article originally published in the Journal of the Medical Library Association. JMLA 104.1 (2016): 79–82. PMC. English. Published online March 10, 2016.
Research methods, Mapping, Publication patterns
This is a publisher’s version of an article that is available at: Recommended citation: Perryman, C. L. (2016). Mapping studies. Journal of the Medical Library Association : JMLA, 104(1), 79–82. This item has been deposited in accordance with publisher copyright and licensing terms and with the author’s permission.