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InfoSkills. A resource for ALL Staff


Whether you’re a student just starting in your career in the NHS or you're a longstanding member of staff, you will, at some point in your time at the Trust need access to books, journal articles, healthcare research or useful web resources to help with patient care, research or your professional development.

This section of our website, InfoSkills, is dedicated to helping you make the most of the library and knowledge service provided at Basildon, Colchester and Harlow. It's been designed for you to dip in and out, depending what your specific need is at the time. For example, today, you may have been given a reading list and you want to know how to search for the items on that list in our library catalogue. There’s a section for that, you can go straight to it. Or you may need to find journal articles on a particular subject. There's a section on how to do that too. There are links to each section below, just click to go to the one you want..

As NHS staff you need to be able to find and use the best quality resources and research. In many cases, patient care and safety will depend on it.  InfoSkills as a whole gives a very clear picture of what resources are available to you. It will also help equip you with the ability to find, select, evaluate, use and communicate the information you find therein. This is information literacy, a key skill not only for you as healthcare professionals but in everyday life as members of our “information society".

Good luck with your studying.

The Library Team


What are Information Skills?

How do I understand a reading list?

How do I find the books I need?

How do I get an NHS Athens account?

How do I search for journal articles?

Why can't I just use Google or Wikipedia?

How do I evaluate information?

What is the Cochrane Library?


Introduction to Basildon Healthcare Library

The Library Website

This link will take you to the Library Homepage. All our resources and services can be accessed from here including the library catalogue ELMS, e-books, e-journals and the healthcare databases.

Join the Library today!

This is a link to our online membership form. If you fill it in and submit it we will endeavour to send out your library card within 2 working days.


What are Information Skills?


Information skills or information literacy as it is sometimes called means having the ability to "know when and why you need information, where to find it, and how to evaluate, use and communicate it in an ethical manner.” (CILIP, 2004)

Information, in every form, from patient's notes to current research is vital for those of us practising evidence based health care. The Open University have produced SAFARI (Skills In Accessing, Finding And Reveiwing Information) "a guided expedition through the information world". We hope that it will help you to feel more confident about finding, evaluating, and using information.

Royal College of Nursing- Information Literacy Competencies

This document, Finding, using and managing information: Nursing, midwifery, health and social care information literacy competences, published by the RCN in 2011, highlights the importance of staff being able to handle information effectively, by maintaining standards in their own practice, and by supporting the informed patient.

In the Principles of Nursing Practice, the RCN highlighted that: ‘Nurses and nursing staff [must] have up to date knowledge and skills, and use these with intelligence, insight and understanding in line with the needs of each individual in their care.’

The RCN’s Integrated core career and competence framework for registered nurses brings together dimensions of the Knowledge and Skills Framework (KSF) which are the most relevant to nursing and midwifery. Information literacy is a key dimension of this framework.

These competences can be used across the board by nurses, midwives, and health care support workers who need to develop skills to support their practice. These information literacy competences have been mapped to the Skills for Health competences and KSF dimensions.


How do I understand a reading list?

Understanding a reading list

Being handed a reading list for the first time can be quite daunting. How do you know which items are books or articles? What do all those numbers at the end of a title mean? Have you got to read everything on the list?

This short video from the University of Leicester gives you a brief introduction to understanding reading lists. If you need further help or have a list which doesn’t quite look like the one in the video then do come up to the library and we’ll try to help.

As for the question about reading everything on the list……very often there’ll be two or three key texts which you’ll be expected to read and the other items are indicative, meaning you should read them or something similar. So don’t think that if you can’t get hold of items on the list you can’t get on with your work, find a book on the same subject. This is easy to do, either go to the library or use the library catalogue and look for books at the same shelf number (the number on the spine label) as the book on the reading list.

With thanks to the University of Leicester for permission to link to this video.


How do I find the books I need?

ELMS User Guide

A printable leaflet on finding, reserving, requesting and renewing items using the Library Catalogue ELMS.

ELMS - Library Catalogue

This is a direct link to the library catalogue which has details of our stock and that of 25 other health libraries in the region. You need to be a library member to take books out. When you have your library ID (the number on the back of your membership card) and your PIN, you can log in to reserve, request and renew items.

How to search the ELMS Library Catalogue

This short demonstration will guide you through the process of searching the ELMS Library Catalogue to locate books and other library resources.


How do I get an NHS Athens account?

Registering for an NHS Athens Account

The ONLY way you can access all the electronic resources available to NHS staff, such as e-books, e-journals and the major healthcare databases such as CINAHL and MEDLINE is by logging into them with an NHS Athens user name and password.

This short presentation takes you step by step through the process of registering for an NHS Athens account and also that of resetting your password should you forget it.

NHS Athens Online Registration Form

Register for NHS Athens here.

What is NHS Athens?

A printable leaflet explaining what NHS Athens is and how to register for an account.


How do I search for journal articles?

Those of you studying or undertaking CPD will at some point need to search for articles and research to cite in your work. However searching for journal articles and the evidence to back up our practice and keep up to date should also be an integral part of our day to day work. This section provides tools to enable you to search for articles using the databases and resources provided by the NHS. Just dip in and use those which you feel will be most useful.

You will need an NHS Athens account which will enable you to access all the NHS online journals and databases. You can register for an account in the previous section.

An introduction to scholarly articles and healthcare databases

This is a basic introduction enabling you to understand what scholarly articles are and how to recognise them, why you need to use them, and where to find them. It also gives you information about the healthcare databases provided by the NHS including the subjects they each cover.

With thanks to Edgehill University for permission to link to their videos below:

Developing a search strategy

Searching for articles can be time consuming. It's always best to think about your search first and plan how you're going to go about it. This wil save you time in the long run and help make your search more focussed and efficient. Watch this short video from Edghill University to find out how.

Searching Medline

Medline is the biggest medical/clinical database with millions of articles from thousands of healthcare, medical and science journals. This video fromEdgehill University is a step-by-step guide to conducting a thorough literature search using Medline via NHS Evidence Healthcare Databases.

Search tips for using the NHS Healthcare Databases

A really useful video from Edgehill University explaining some of the tips which will make searching the NHS healthcare databases much easier and help you retrieve better results. If you don't use any of the other resources in this section at least use this one!

Tips on using the Thesaurus (Subject Headings)

There are two ways of searching the databases. Keyword searching, where you type in and search for actual words which appear in the text or thesaurus searching, also called subject heading searching or sometimes MeSH (medical subject headings). This way of searching is looking for the words with which an article is indexed on the database. The video explains it really well!

10 Steps to Database Searching

A short 4 page leaflet which you can print out giving you the key steps to searching for articles.

Finding Articles - Starting Out

A short leaflet which you can print out detailing how to search for articles using the Journals A-Z List  in  NHS Evidence as well as the databases.


Why can't I just use Google or Wikipedia?

As NHS staff you need to be able to find and use the best quality, authoritative, resources and evidence. In many cases, patient care and safety will depend on it. Despite the millions of "hits" you can get on Google for any subject, only about 30/40% of quality healthcare information is freely available. The majority of peer reviewed journal articles and medical/healthcare information and research is only available through subscription based resources, many of which the NHS has access to.
Wikipedia, although it has it's place in finding information can't be viewed as a totally reliable source as anyone can edit any item. Therefore it's possible that someone with no medical knowledge has altered that particular subject that you want to look at. I'm sure you can see the potential danger if you were to use that information only when caring for your patient!

Why can't I just Google?

This video from La Trobe University very clearly illustrates the pitfalls of relying on Google.

BMJ Editorial: Citing Wikipedia-Don't do it!

This British Medical Journal Editorial from March 2014, clearly outlines the reasons why Wikipedia shouldn't be cited in health science articles and refers to a recent study (Bould, M.Dylan et al, (2014), References that anyone can edit: review of Wikipedia citations in peer reviewed health science literature, BMJ;348:g1585, which is also included here, about the problem and pravalence of Wikipedia citations.  


How do I evaluate information?

"We are drowning in information but starved for knowledge." - John Naisbitt

Information is everywhere. But how do we know what is worth knowing? Not everything that we find is worth reading, including much of what is available on the internet. We need to be able to think critically and use judgment in deciding what is useful, relevant and valuable, especially when it involves patient care. The resources in this section can help you develop thinking strategies for evaluating information, wherever it comes from.

Evaluating Information

A short presentation from Leeds University about evaluating information and thinking critically.

Bill learns what to trust.

A very short, light hearted podcast from the Open University

Evaluating websites using the C.R.A.A.P. test

The CRAAP acronym stands for...

This video from Johnson & Wales University in the US takes you through these important criteria needed for evaluating information.

The C.R.A.P.py Song URL

Evaluating information....set to music!!

Health on the Net Foundation URL

"The Health On the Net Foundation (HON) promotes and guides the deployment of useful and reliable online health information, and its appropriate and efficient use. Created in 1995, HON is a non-profit, non-governmental organization, accredited to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations."

HON includes the HONcode, standards for health information on the internet, HONsearch, a specialized medical search engine and many more resources. Definitely worth a look.


What is the Cochrane Library?

Introduction to the Cochrane Library

A short overview of the Cochrane Library

The Cochrane Library Booklet

A detailed step by step guide which explains what the Cochrane Library is, what it contains and how to search it successfully.

The Cochrane Library

A quick and clear guide to conducting an effective search in The Cochrane Library from Edgehill University.