Want to know more about evidence-based practice? The Wikipedia definition:“An approach to a profession informed by the review of evidence gathered in systematic ways. Evidence-based practice (EBP) uses research results, reasoning, and best practices to inform the improvement of whatever professional task is at hand. Evidence-based practice is a philosophical approach that is in opposition to rules of thumb, folklore, and tradition. Examples of a reliance on “the way it was always done” can be found in almost every profession, even when those practices are contradicted by new and better information. Evidence-based design and development decisions are made after reviewing information from repeated rigorous data gathering instead of relying on rules, single observations, or custom. Evidence-based medicine and evidence-based nursing practice are the two largest fields employing this approach.”
Given the intractability that change brings out in some librarians, gathering this kind of information seems like a good thing. It’s ammunition against the conventional wisdom.
For many of us there is little time or opportunity for extensive usability testing. The good news is that there is a new online journal, Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, which presents articles using the evidence-based practice to information gathering. Here’s their focus and scope statement, “The purpose of the journal is to provide a forum for librarians and other information professionals to discover research that may contribute to decision making in professional practice. EBLIP publishes original research and commentary on the topic of evidence based library and information practice, as well as reviews of previously published research (evidence summaries) on a wide number of topics.”
Even if you are preparing your own usability work the journal provides a good place to start. To quote from Steven D. Levitt’s Freakonomics blog, “The effective use of statistics is one issue for which I am always happy to be an advocate.”