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Tutor profile: Jennifer L.

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Jennifer L.
Biologist, Librarian, & Educator - Teaching is Where My Heart Is
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Questions

Subject: Professional Development

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Question:

What types of methods can be used to provide professional development?

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Jennifer L.
Answer:

Professional development, or continuing education and skill improvement for practicing professionals, can be provided through a wide variety of methods. Depending on the learners' needs, available time, and available funding, options can include: - Formal certificate, degree, or accreditation programs -Credit-bearing, non-credit bearing, or audited individual courses -Participation in professional organizations -Conference-based courses and workshops -Association based courses and workshops offered in local areas or online -Utilizing online resources including training sites like Coursera, Khan Academy, and Lynda -Developing and teaching continuing education courses to other professionals in your field -Collaborative work with professionals in other fields -Mentoring -Learning on-the-job by 'trial-and-error' or by gaining experience through trying new activities and increasing ability in practice Online-based continuing education is growing rapidly, particularly the use of webinars, learning management systems, and open education sites.

Subject: Library and Information Science

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Question:

What are the differences between using controlled vocabulary terms and 'textwords' (AKA 'keywords' to search a bibliographic database?

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Jennifer L.
Answer:

Textword searching, also called keyword searching, is the most common approach most people use to search any bibliographic database (and many other types such as internet search engines). Databases treat this a text string search, looking for exact matches to the series of characters entered. In some cases, the database may provide a spell checker that will ask the searcher if they meant a more common word. In other cases, the database may apply some automated translation features such as attempting to locate the closest controlled vocabulary term, searching a phrase dictionary, an author index, etc. Sometimes these automated features are helpful, but they can also go very wrong. Regardless, a textword search is done independent of any meaning. For example, searching Google for "diarrhea in children" may bring up a top hit about a musical band named "diarrhea" conducting a concert to raise money for a children's hospital. Furthermore, if the searcher wants to be comprehensive, they have to think about all the possible alternative synonyms or terms any author might use for the concept the searcher is trying to find. That can be very difficult and can require the use of a long list of terms. Nonetheless, textword searching can be quite helpful in some cases. These terms can often be truncated or searched with wildcards within them. Also, some databases, such as the NLM's PubMed, contain article records put in by publishers even though the database indexers haven't applied controlled vocabulary terms yet. Therefore, the most recent article records may only be located by textwords. Unlike textwords, controlled vocabulary, or subject terms, are conceptual (semantic) in nature. There are called 'controlled' because these subject term have been pre-selected by the database managers to represent specific concepts. Each term represents one concept and each concept has only one term assigned. Using these subject terms allows much more focused and accurate searching, as experienced indexers have already tagged the database records with these terms. Looking up the concepts in your search question in the vocabulary to find the assigned subject terms allows searchers to take advantage of the work done by the indexers and significantly reduces false hits. Also, most of these vocabularies allow expanding (AKA exploding), where a broader term will automatically include a search of narrower terms that sit conceptually below it. For example, the use of a subject term for "diagnostic imaging" will include searching for narrower terms like computed tomography and MRI. This can save a lot of effort in the search. In most cases, using these concept-based terms is a much better approach to bibliographic database searching. However, there are downsides to using controlled vocabulary (subject) terms. In large subject disciplines, whether sciences, social sciences, or humanities, it is impossible in practice for even an expert group of people to think of every possible concept someone could want to use to search. Additionally, new concepts are always being developed. Therefore, there will be times where the desired concept is missing from the controlled vocabulary or is poorly represented; when this happens, textword searching is the only solution. Furthermore, these terms must be looked up, identified, and used exactly in the search. They can't be truncated, for example. Also, in cases like PubMed, as mentioned above, the indexers who are applying the terms to articles electronically submitted by journal publishers are behind, sometimes by weeks. Therefore, textword searching must be used to get that recent literature. This last issue doesn't occur in all databases, but should be watched for. Finally, in conclusion the primary difference between textwords and controlled vocabulary (subject) terms is that the former are searched regardless of meaning while the latter allow conceptual (meaning-based) searching.

Subject: Biomedical Science

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Question:

Is atrial fibrillation a heritable disorder, what genes are involved, and where could a genetic test be done?

Inactive
Jennifer L.
Answer:

Searching the Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man database (omIm.org) finds multiple records for familial atrial fibrillation. Reading the top listed record, https://omim.org/entry/608583, about gene AFTB1, finds information on the genetic heterogeneity of this disease, but makes it clear that it is inheritable and that mutations in several genes can be involved. These genes include KCNQ1, KCNE2, NPPA, KCNA5, KCNJ2, SCN5A, GJA5, ABCC9, SCN1B, SCN2B, NUP155, SCN3B, SCN4B, and MYL4. Additionally, searching the NCBIs MedGen database (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/medgen) for atrial fibrilation finds a general record (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/medgen/445) that lists some of the same genes and provides links to extensive biomedical literature and other databases. Also, for a healthcare consumer/patient, an excellent source of information is the NLM's Genetics Home Reference (https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/familial-atrial-fibrillation). In fact, GHR provides very clear information, and useful information on the development of knowledge of the causes of familiar atrial fibrillation and links for getting more information in specific genes. The first gene identified was the potassium channel gene KCNQ1, and other potassium channel genes have since been associated with this disorder. Additionally, a series of voltage-gated sodium channels, SCN1B and several others, are also associated. A reliable place to look for labs that do testing, and the types of tests available worldwide, is the Genetic Testing Registry (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/gtr/). Searching GTR for atrial fibrillation finds over 200 tests by over 40 laboratories (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/gtr/all/tests/?term=atrial+fibrillation). Each listing links to information on the test types, the genes examined, and the laboratory information.

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