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Online library services 2018: how has using our e-resources helped you?

18 Jan 2019

Susan Isaac

In 2018, we ran a survey asking you to tell us about your experience of using our online resources. Our aim was to develop a better understanding of the impact that using online resources has. We regularly monitor usage of individual resources, so that we can see which ones are being used. What we would like to know more about is why you use them, and what effect using them is having upon your work.

Open quotationWhen looking up unusual surgical complications of a certain procedure and how to manage them. Helped a patient who had been struggling for a long time.Close quotation

Many of you shared your stories, and told us about your experience of using e-resources, and how this has impacted on patient care and your working lives, which is invaluable to us. Some of your responses linked use with very specific positive outcomes, and were wonderful for us to read; while others flagged up areas where we could improve. More about improvements later.

Responses from 120 participants included 153 comments in addition to the data gathered via check boxes, meeting our aim to collect both quantitative and qualitative information. The richest data comes from comments explaining why you use the resources and how it helps you to care for patients, teach and research. Combined with your comments on where we can do better, we now have a much fuller picture of how online resources are used and are working on the next steps to make full use of your feedback.

Using e-resources: what, why and impact

The responses reflect the e-resources usage we monitor across the year, but your comments gave us much needed context. It is great to know that Acland’s is helping candidates to prepare for exams, but also that surgeons are using it to “review before unfamiliar surgical approaches”.

Survey response 2: e-resources used

Keeping up to date, patient care, teaching activities and research for presentation or publication are the most common reasons you use online resources. Many of you also use the resources to develop protocols, guidelines or plan services. Under the “Other” option, several people cited exam preparation, describing the use of resources to provide support for studying for the Intercollegiate MRCS, and others cited working on their theses for Fellowship in this category.

Survey response 3: impact on work

The impact of using library e-resources can best be shown by sharing some of your comments:

CommentPatient Care

Open quotationIt helped on many occasions. Once I looked for management of failed repair of perforated duodenal ulcer. I learned about tube duodenostomy, which helped me saving life of a patient.Close quotation

Open quotationTreatment of post op pain opioid use.Close quotation


Open quotationWhen doing teaching, keeping informed of fresh research has been key to answer any questions about very research developments.Close quotation

Open quotationParticularly when teaching post graduates.Close quotation


Open quotationResearching publications on day surgery to prepare a paper reporting our reduction of unplanned admissions.Close quotation

Open quotationChange in surgical technique.Close quotation


Open quotationAcland Anatomy - incredibly useful as part of MRCS preparation.Close quotation

Open quotationAided in setting exam questions.Close quotation

Keeping up to date

Open quotationContinuously look at journals and online books via ClinicalKey.Close quotation

Open quotationLooking up papers on unusual conditions.Close quotation

Protocols and Guidelines

Open quotationDesign a new consent forms for my trust which is now approved and part of the pre operative check list.Close quotation

Open quotationDesigning Breast surgery prophylactic antibiotic protocol.Close quotation

Satisfaction with e-resources

Survey response 5: satisfaction

Over half of the respondents are satisfied with the e-resources provided, which is great, but we need to focus on the issues raised by the 15% that are dissatisfied and see where we can improve. Your negative comments fall into two areas: Access and Resources.


Open quotationPlease keep iterating the e-journal service so it is easier to use.Close quotation

Open quotationIt’s clunky to get into the journals.Close quotation

We are all used to mainstream digital content being just a click away, so it’s understandably frustrating when it isn’t always as easy to access a scientific article. Our e-resources are made available by third-party providers who require authentication processes to ensure access is only available to those who have subscribed to them. Therefore it is essential that you login first before attempting to click on a link to an e-resource. We continue to work to simplify access and share your comments with our suppliers. We have illustrated help pages on our catalogue pages to guide you, but please contact us if you are having problems at


Open quotationIt needs to have access to wider range.Close quotation

Open quotationNope, they are perfect.Close quotation

We are constantly working to balance your needs with the allocated budget. However, sometimes titles are not available to us electronically (owing to restrictions placed by learned societies), or there are publisher license restrictions on usage that we cannot accept. We regularly review the resources we provide and in 2019 we will be making some new book and journal titles, and e-resources available. Your comments about the impact of using resources and what you still need have been very helpful in lending weight to our requests. It is really useful to hear about the journals or other resources that you need, giving us a wish list to take forward in the future.

Next steps

Based on the survey results, here are some of the actions we are working on:

  • NEW in 2018 - Wiley Online Medical and Nursing eJournal Collection giving access to 400+ peer reviewed journals. Search for specific titles using SurgiCat+ or the Journal Finder. Alternatively you can download a full list of Wiley Nursing and Medical Collection titles. Available titles include: British Journal of Surgery, Oral Surgery, Journal of Cardiac Surgery, European Journal of Pain and many more.
  • NEW for 2019 – online access to Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma and the latest issues of Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (American).
  • COMING SOON - in spring 2019 we will be making a very high quality learning and teaching 3D anatomy and physiology resource available – in the form of Visible Body. It will provide access to virtual models and 3D animations on the move or at your desk.
  • Creating a new feedback web page where we can provide answers to your feedback and promote new resources.
  • Using your comments to find ways to improve your experience and develop updated help tools.

Members from all career stages responded to the survey with the biggest groups being Consultants and Specialty Training post holders. While the majority of the respondents were based in England (60%), there was a good response from overseas members (31%) and we’d love to hear more from you.

We are very grateful to everyone who took the time to share their experience of using e-resources with us and to suggest practical improvements. Congratulations to the lucky member who won the Amazon voucher. Keep looking at our web pages to see how we are working to improve the service and please send us your feedback to

Susan Isaac, Information Services Manager

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