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Welcome to a new school year! This academic year will be challenging as many students, staff and faculty members continue to work from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the staff at Himmelfarb Library wanted to provide some tips that we used during our own academic careers that helped us organize our notes, study and have a successful semester. 

JoLinda Thompson, Systems Librarian- It always helped me to read my notes aloud. I still use the verbalization trick if I’m trying to remember something!

Stephen Bryant, Evening/Weekend Supervisor- Nowadays I listen to smooth jazz or Lo-Fi music while I study/work. It’s enough to provide some background music, but it’s not dynamic enough to distract me from work.

Stacy Brody, Reference & Instructional Librarian- I was a big fan of drawing things out. This was especially helpful for some of the science courses like organic chemistry and biochem. I liked to study in the student center, but really early, just when it opened, before it got too busy. I always tried to consume media that reinforced what I learned in class, whether it was a good book, a journal article that was recommended but not required, or a podcast. 

Laura Abate, Associate Director for Library Operations- LibKey Nomad is my best library related tip. Make your bed. Schedule time for ‘you’- block time to exercise, call a friend or have dinner with someone you care about. 

Sam Sisay, Reference Specialist (Evening)- Don’t study in your bedroom, study in a library study room, which leaves your bedroom as a place to relax. Study with friends, even if you are not studying the same thing. Being around others who are studying can be helpful in motivating you. 

Ruth Bueter, Serials and Systems Librarian- Instrumental music was helpful for me (especially when listening with headphones), because it helps me focus. Some of my favorite options recently include:

  • Movie scores (Phillip Glass’s score from The Hours, and anything written by Ennio Morricone- like the score from The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly)
  • Chillhop YouTube streams
  • Lindsey Stirling
  • Classical music
  • Electronic music for studying streaming music stations on Pandora/Spotify/ etc.

Have healthy snacks handy. Some of my go-to’s are:

  • Fruit- bananas, apples, pears, oranges, etc. 
  • Nuts- a handful of almonds, peanuts, walnuts, pecans or yout nut of choice has enough protein to help keep your stomach happy and keep you focused
  • Dark chocolate- 1 square of dark chocolate can be a sweet reward to break up the monotony of studying

Study cards: I normally cut 3x5 notecards in half. They are more portable in that size. Whenever you have a few minutes of free time-take them out and quiz yourself. I would write a question on the front side and the answer on the back. Writing the information so many times (between taking notes while reading, during lecture, and on the notecard) helped me retain the info. 

Lastly, Coffee. The importance of coffee in getting me through both my undergrad and graduate degrees cannot be understated. 

Ian Roberts, Acquisitions & Resource Sharing Librarian- In grad school I used to schedule all of my appointments into multiple calendars. I Synced up my school calendar with my iCloud calendar. I know some people don't like mixing those, but it always helped me (still does, actually). 

Brittany Smith, Senior Library Assistant (Metadata Specialist)- Take breaks while studying. Personally, I like to take short walks to give my mind time to rest. This is especially helpful when moving from one subject to another. As many people already mentioned, listening to instrumental music is a big help. I’m a fan of YouTube Chillhop or LoFi stations. I also enjoy listening to Studio Ghibli music which is soothing and always puts me in a great mood. Take advantage of the resources available to you. Whether it’s meeting with a librarian to discuss an upcoming research project/paper or visiting the professor or TA during their office hours to ask a clarifying question, make sure to reach out to the people who are there to help you. 

The most important tip is to find what works best for you. Take this advice and fit it to your particular style of studying. If you’re not a fan of Chillhop or Lo-Fi music, try classical jazz. Try a strong black tea if you want to monitor your coffee intake. Create a virtual study room or take advantage of the study rooms in Himmelfarb. Mix and match these tips with ones you already use to create the perfect strategy for this new semester!

If you’re a first year medical student, you may wonder how a medical and health sciences library differs from other academic libraries. While academic libraries as a whole work tirelessly to support students, faculty and staff during their time at a college or university, medical library professionals seek out services and resources that are specifically targeted towards medical and health professionals. 

It is not necessary for a medical librarian or other library professional to go through medical school or have a prior background in the medical or health sciences career field. Through constant training and professional development, medical library professionals build a foundational knowledge of common medical terms. The staff at Himmelfarb library frequently attend training sessions to broaden our scope of knowledge to better serve our patrons. Some of our staff members are also embedded in various classes and act as an extra source of support within that environment. With this knowledge we are able to tailor our services to the needs of our unique patrons. 

Medical research can be a daunting undertaking, but medical libraries provide access to print and electronic book, online databases and academic journals that are instrumental during the research, drafting and publishing process. Himmelfarb’s reference desk is available to answer any questions you may have. Through the use of our Ask A Librarian service, it’s possible to connect with someone in a matter of seconds. If you’re interested in learning more about the various ins-and-outs of scholarly publishing, our Scholarly Communications Committee recently completed a webinar series that touches on various publishing topics. The webinars are located under our Scholarly Publishing libguide. Once you’ve published a peer-reviewed article, we’re able to archive it within our institutional repository--the Health Science Research Commons, also known as the HSRC. With the use of Plumx metrics, it’s easy to track the level of engagement a published article receives. No matter what questions you may have, Himmelfarb is ready to assist. 

Medical libraries also strive to provide access to new medical technology. Himmelfarb has several pieces of equipment that can be checked out from the circulation desk. We also house a 3D printer that students, staff and faculty members can use to print various 3D models. This service is by request only. For more information, read the ‘3D Printing at Himmelfarb’ libguide. We’re constantly searching for new and innovative technology that can be used by our patrons and we hope to provide additional technological services in the near future. 

Medical librarianship is a dynamic career field that often changes to address the needs of medical and health science professionals. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced library professionals to develop and maintain a virtual learning environment. Though many staff members of Himmelfarb library continue to work remotely, we’re available to answer any questions you may have. We’re thrilled to be an extra source of support during your time at the George Washington University and we look forward to working with you!

Photo of the medRxiv logo.

Earlier this year we published a post on the new preprint server, medRxiv (pronounced ‘Med Archive’). We touched on the benefits of archiving research via this service, as well as pointing out the potential downsides. But with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing many to work from home and observe social distancing guidelines, preprint services like medRxiv help researchers share their preliminary findings as they seek to better understand this new disease and discover potential treatment options.

With new information on COVID-19 released on a near daily basis, medRxiv is an excellent place to archive research and disseminate it within the medical community.The archival server has a specialized collection dedicated to research pertaining to the study of COVID-19. At the time of the publication of this post, the preprint server holds approximately 4204 articles. With Altmetrics, researchers are able to track the level of engagement their article receives. 

Articles located on the preprint server have not undergone the rigorous peer review process.It is imperative that the research located on medrRxiv is not used in a clinical setting nor shared with the media or public. As we learn more about this disease, how best to fight it and how to prevent its spread, members of the medical community must observe best practices and avoid sharing potentially harmful misinformation to the public or media. 

The research and news on COVID-19 is constantly evolving. There is still much to learn about this novel coronavirus and medical professionals are working tirelessly to add to the expanding literature on this disease. MedRxiv, the preprint server, has a collection dedicated exclusively to preliminary research on COVID-19. As such, it is an excellent and free resource that puts researchers in contact with each other. 

If you would like to learn more about medRxiv or if you’re interested in submitting research to the server, be sure to visit

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Himmelfarb Library would like to welcome all of our new users! Whether you are a new resident, fellow, physician assistant or public health student, we welcome you to the GW community! Himmelfarb is ready to serve you and help make your experience here a positive one. You may be curious about what Himmelfarb has to offer and how you can make the most of our resources and services. Here are the top five things we’d like you to know about Himmelfarb:

1) Getting Research Help is Easy!

Our reference librarians are available to answer your questions and provide research support when and where you need help. Get your research and library-related questions answered right from your computer by using the Ask a Librarian service! Reference librarians are available to answer your texts and instant message questions Monday-Thursday from 8:30am-8:00pm, and Friday from 8:30am-5:00pm. 

2) Himmelfarb Resources are Available Anytime, Anywhere.

Himmelfarb’s 100 databases, 4,100 journals, and 4,500 e-books are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our e-book collection includes most major textbooks from most fields. Install the LibKey Nomad Google Chrome browser extension for seamless and speedy access to full-text articles available through Himmelfarb. After installing the extension, choose ‘George Washington University - Himmelfarb Library’ as your institution, and you’ll be all set. For more information about accessing Himmelfarb’s online resources including tips for navigating articles, check out our E-Resources FAQs page.

To access our electronic resources from off-campus, we recommend connecting to the GW VPN. The Himmelfarb off-campus access page provides additional information about installing the VPN and accessing electronic resources with your GW NetID. Many of our resources are also available as mobile apps for download on your mobile devices. 

3) 3D Printing is Available!

Himmelfarb has a 3D printer available for use by faculty, staff and students in SMHS, SON, GWSPH, the GW Hospital and the MFA. 3D printing will be available once the library opens its doors again. For more information about 3D printing at Himmelfarb, check out our 3D Printing Guide.

4) If We Don’t Have It, We’ll Do Our Best To Get It For You.

While we attempt to make our collection as robust as possible, we don’t have access to everything. In the event that we don’t have access to a resource that you need, you can place a request through our Interlibrary Loan/Documents2Go service. Through this service, we are able to work with a nationwide network of libraries to obtain a copy of a needed resource on your behalf. Articles are normally delivered within 24-72 hours. Interested in learning more about this service? Check our in-depth Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery guide.

5) The Health Sciences Research Commons Can Expand the Reach of Your Research!

Health Sciences Research Commons (HSRC) is Himmelfarb’s institutional repository, and is a perfect place for you to share your research output during your time at GW. All faculty, researchers, students (with the sponsorship of a faculty member), and staff affiliated with SMHS, SON, GWSPH at GW are eligible to submit their scholarly works to HSRC. By placing your work in HSRC, your work will be easily shareable and discoverable via Google Scholar and other search engines. If you have questions about the HSRC, take a look at the FAQ page or contact Sara Hoover (, Metadata and Scholarly Publishing Librarian, for more information.

This top five list is just a glimpse into all that Himmelfarb has to offer! In addition to the resources mentioned above, we have numerous research guides on a wide variety of topics. Tutorials are also available on a variety of topics. Himmelfarb welcomes you to the GW community! 



Librarian Reserve Corps

Stacy Brody is a Master of Information. Literally. That’s what it says on her degree from Rutgers University School of Communication and Information, at least. And she is using her skills to contribute to the fight against the COVID-19 infodemic.


Stacy was warmly welcomed to the Himmelfarb Library team three months ago. Like many of you, she isn’t sure whether those are short or long months - her perception of time seems to have been affected by the pandemic.

As a member of the Himmelfarb team, she supports the work of clinicians and researchers by conducting literature searches, compiling resources for the weekly Intelligence Reports, and maintaining the COVID-19 Research Guide.

Keeping up-to-date with, and searching for, COVID-19 literature requires some creativity. The research is coming out in torrents. New publications are posted on preprint servers and publisher websites, then picked up on Twitter and by the news media before the research community has had the opportunity to evaluate them. The quality of research described in scholarly articles is variable. Original research is showing up in Commentaries and Editorials for rapid dissemination. The delay between publication and appearance on PubMed and other databases is becoming more apparent and more critical.  The norms of scholarly communication and publishing are being challenged in a big way.

Finding and evaluating the evidence to support evidence-based medicine is more difficult when it comes to COVID.

Which is why, when Stacy saw the call on the Medical Library Association’s listserv to support the global response by indexing COVID-19 research publications, she signed up. She hoped that, by applying topic tags to articles, she, in her small way, could make the evidence more findable and usable to the global audience of responders, clinicians, and researchers.

As she hit the Reply button, she didn’t know that she would become co-lead of the Librarian Reserve Corps. She hadn’t yet met her Librarian Reserve Corps co-lead Sara Loree, a medical librarian at St. Luke’s Health System in Idaho, or the visionary Librarian Reserve Corps founder Elaine Hicks, Research, Education and Public Health Librarian at Tulane University. Hicks, reflecting on her own professional experience in public health and emergency preparedness, recognized that the need of Tulane University epidemiologist and GOARN (Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network)-Research lead Dr. Lina Moses, was one no librarian could meet alone. Members of GOARN, a WHO network of 250-plus agencies, institutes, and universities organized to respond to outbreaks, need the literature to support evidence-based public health response efforts. As described above, that evidence is hard to find in an infodemic. For evidence-finding at a global scale, you need an international army of librarians. Hicks, seeing this and dreaming of just such an army, put out a call to the Medical Library Association listserv. The newly formed Librarian Reserve Corps, modeled after the Medical Reserve Corps, supports evidence-based response efforts by providing resources for evidence-based public health.

The initial efforts to tag articles quickly grew - not only because the number of COVID-19 research articles has grown but also because we have learned more about the skills and expertise of our volunteers and the needs of GOARN-Research! Librarian Reserve Corps volunteers continue to index articles on a daily basis and have since expanded their services. Volunteers now conduct literature searches and monitor the media. They work to connect groups working on systematic reviews and meta-analyses.

Librarians have the skills needed to fight the infodemic and help our public health and medical professionals fight the pandemic.

Stacy recognizes that many of the Librarian Reserve Corps’s volunteers contribute to the infodemic-pandemic response at this global level and at the local level. They provide search support for clinicians and researchers. They help students and faculty access the library resources they need to continue their work virtually. They help professors transition to online instruction. As librarians, Stacy acknowledges, we are often in behind-the-scenes roles. She is honored to be part of this amazing, talented, dedicated team of volunteers making librarians famous.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused dramatic upheaval in the world of professional conferences. Most conferences have either been  postponed to a later date or canceled for the year, leaving scholars with posters and presentations that can't be shared with their peers until late 2020 or 2021 at the earliest. Fortunately, the Himmelfarb Library has an excellent resource available that allows for asynchronous virtual conferencing. With the Health Sciences Research Commons, (HSRC), members of the George Washington University Medical, Health Sciences, Public Health and Nursing communities have the ability to archive and present their research to scholars around the globe. 

With Health Sciences Research Commons, it is possible to archive presentation materials such as poster PDFs or videos via native streaming or a 3rd party platform (i.e. YouTube).  If you have content that you would like to share, simply send an email to and we will be happy to find an appropriate collection, create the necessary metadata, and send you a link to your archived projects.  Have questions related to archiving and potential future publications? We are happy to answer those questions as well. 

Using the HSRC as a presentation platform is an asynchronous experience which is  different from than the in-person conference. But archiving your project in HSRC has unique benefits such as the ability to generate usage statistics using PlumX metrics and Altmetircs located on the right hand side of an entry. 

As we adapt to a life and workflow that is reliant on virtual workspaces, it is important that we continue to collaborate and share current research with the larger medical community. The HSRC is a wonderful space for archiving and presenting research. If you have any additional questions on using the repository, feel free to reach out to Sara Hoover,  Metadata and Scholarly Publishing Librarian at

Please note: This blog post was updated on May 18, 2020 to better reflect the process for submitting to the HSRC.

Impact of Climate Change on Human HealthI recently finished grading presentations by our first-year medical students in their Clinical Integration Sessions. As you might assume any good librarian might do, I reviewed their references and made sure they correctly formatted their lists. I also looked for other skills built into their curriculum, skills like interactivity and timing.

One of the first skills they learn in CIS, and one that is reinforced in each round of student presentations, is their introduction. As presenters, they need to tell me - their audience - who they are, what they’re talking about, and why I need to listen up.

The “why I need to listen up” piece is critical. It’s how they get my attention and keep it, for the whole five minutes they are presenting.

Neelu TummalaIf they need inspiration on how to do this effectively, they might look to Dr. Neelu Tummala, a clinical physician with GWU’s MFA and a member of the inaugural cohort of Public Voices Fellowship on the Climate Crisis at the Yale Program on Climate Communication. Her class includes political activists, researchers, and consultants. Many of her classmates describe an interest in advancing human health, however, she is the only doctor in the group.

When I asked about the connection she sees between her work in medicine and climate change, Dr. Tummala told me that her medical lens helps her communicate to broader audiences about climate change. “No one,” she says, “is immune from the health effects of climate change.” By relating a grand problem to personal experience, she can hook in an audience that might otherwise not have “listened up”.

Several of my CIS students have started their presentations with case studies. They’ve shown radiographic images, told stories, and introduced scenarios. Dr. Tummala often does the same thing when presenting information - she provides examples of patients seen in Emergency Rooms and clinics, patients who have been affected by climate change and other environmental issues. This concretization of the abstract, this story-telling, captures our interest.

And it is not only the story-telling that is important. It is the basic science behind these stories, the mechanistic reasoning and research that explains why climate change impacts our health. Dr. Tummala keeps up with the latest literature in NEJM and The Lancet and stays abreast of environmental reporting with The Guardian. By following conversations in both scientific research and the news media, Dr. Tummala is able to evaluate sweeping claims and participate in the conversation.

A year-and-a-half in to the GWU community, Dr. Tummala is engaging in these important conversations at the local level. Though she acknowledges it was initially a slow process, she has now found other colleagues interested in addressing climate and health, through whom she has engaged in clinical research and teaching, including Dr. Hana Akselrod, Assistant Professor of Medicine, GW SMHS and Dr. Rachel Harold, Infectious Disease Fellow, GW SMHS.  In addition, she is also planning on working with collaborators across traditional disciplinary boundaries including Dr. Susan Anenberg, Associate Professor, GWSPH. Their grant proposal, “Advancing GW Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration in Climate Change and Public Health Research”, written by Drs. Anenberg and Akselrod, was recently awarded monies from the GWU Cross-Disciplinary Research Fund.

And what is one of the keys to getting a grant? Writing a good proposal, which should tell your potential funders who you are, what you’re going to research, and why they need to listen up.

Interested in Learning more about Climate Change and Medicine? Check out these resources

CovidenceOn Wednesday  April 22 at noon EST,  the next course in Himmelfarb Library's 2020 Scholarly Communications series will be released!  Covidence Training with Tom Harrod will be useful if you’re currently working on a systematic review or plan to begin a systematic review in the future.

Covidence, a service recently added to Himmelfarb's collection, greatly streamlines the process of creating a systematic review. In this webinar, Tom Harrod will review the common steps performed when creating a systematic review and explore how Covidence can help you during all of these stages.  He will also show you how to get a Covidence account through the Himmelfarb Library’s subscription.

Diagram shows which Linking Open Data datasets are connected, as of August 2014Recently, an increased number of data papers has been published – that is, articles which point users to high quality datasets and  describe how those datasets were created.  Unlike traditional publications, data papers don’t interpret or analyze the data.  The goal of these papers is to bring valuable datasets to the wider research community so that researchers can use them to identify new relationships within the datasets.  However, similar to traditional articles, data papers do usually undergo a standard peer review process.
There are many reasons why a researcher might publish a data paper.  The most obvious reason being to maximize the utility of their data by allowing other researchers to identify new patterns and relationships within their dataset.  Additionally, researchers may choose to publish datasets containing
‘negative’ or inconclusive data which might have otherwise been filed away, never to be made available to the research community at large.  Furthermore, as they are published in recognized journals, it’s possible for researchers to receive recognition (and valuable impact statistics) for their datasets through citations from subsequent articles which make use of the data.
Some examples of data journals include:
If you have questions about making your datasets more accessible to other
researchers or accessing datasets, please contact the Himmelfarb Health Science Library’s Research Support Librarian, Tom Harrod (
Image citation: Max Schmachtenberg, Christian Bizer, Anja Jentzsch and Richard Cyganiak -, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Considering writing a systematic review?  Are you using a systematic review approach for your Culminating Experience?  Himmelfarb Library's Covidence tool can help!

Covidence's web-based system provides support for every step of the systematic review process including citation screening, full text review, study selection, risk of bias appraisal, study characteristics collection, data extraction, and data export.    GW affiliates who join Himmelfarb Library's Covidence account, can take advantage of unlimited reviews, participation by multiple reviewers (whether or not they're affiliated with GW), and can upload up to 15,000 citations for screening.

How can you get started with Covidence?

  • Himmelfarb's Covidence Research Guide will help you set up a Himmelfarb-supported Covidence account and connect you to training videos for each step of the systematic review process.
  • Covidence's Support site provides step-by-step instructions in addition to training videos.
  • Set up a consultation with a Himmelfarb librarian by sending an email to

If you're interested in learning more about the systematic review process, please join this online session on Saturday, February 29 from 4-5 p.m. ET [Register]:

GWSPH Refine Your Research Skills Workshops - The ABC's of Systematic Review

Systematic reviews can seem daunting, but like anything else, are a series of steps. Come learn more about the steps involved and some techniques for staying organized during the process.


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