BIREME Bulletin n° 50

BIREME participates in the FELSOCEM 2020 International Scientific Congress

The Latin American Federation of Medical Students’ Societies (FELSOCEM, in its Spanish acronym) held its 35th International Scientific Congress on November 11-14, with a program dedicated to topics of interest to the medical curriculum, residency and specialization, health systems in the region and, in addition, scholarly communication topics.

Like what had happened in previous editions, BIREME had an outstanding participation in the event. The opening conference was given by Diego González, Director of BIREME, who presented the theme “Quality information: a critical success factor in the fight against infodemia”. The presentation was followed by a lecture by Lilian Calò, Coordinator of Scientific Communication in Health at BIREME, who presented “Scientific information about COVID-19 and the reliability of preprints”. BIREME’s participation once again included the mini-course on Research of scientific evidence in health information sources, taught by Rosemeire Pinto, Supervisor of the Service of Training and Attention to the User.

González, in his presentation, focused on the search for information about COVID-19 carried out by health professionals, researchers and the population in general. However, due to the excess of information, not always correct, many do not know where to look for reliable sources. The Director of BIREME brought answers, presenting some sources that offer access to reliable information, knowledge and scientific evidence, to fight infodemia.

dg_felsoThe Virtual Health Library (VHL) and its information sources, the LILACS database (Latin American and Caribbean Literature in Health Sciences), and the controlled vocabulary DeCS (Health Sciences Descriptors), which brings together more than 30 million bibliographic records, more than 890 indexed scientific journals and other types of documents such as books, theses and unconventional literature.

Other resources based on the VHL information sources cited by González are the Windows of Knowledge, the e-BlueInfo application and the Evidence Maps, to name just a few. It is also worth mentioning the COVID-19 database developed by the World Health Organization (WHO), which has the support of BIREME, as it reuses the search interface Global Index Medicus.

Lilian Calò, in her presentation, spoke about preprints as a vehicle for publishing articles on SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19, and about the limitations of the peer review process, which cannot guarantee all aspects of the integrity of the one scientific article, such as the absence of plagiarism or false data, reproducibility or its relevance. Lilian compared the strengths and weaknesses of preprints and articles from scientific journals, citing examples of articles on COVID-19 in renowned journals that were recently retracted due to false data.

lc_felsoIt is important, however, to keep in mind that articles published as preprints undergo post-publication peer review[1], when receiving comments on the platform, which are answered by the authors. The bioRxiv preprint server reports that 38% of the 200,000 preprints receive at least one comment. In most cases, the same article published as a preprint is also submitted to a journal and, in this process, they are peer-reviewed. Therefore, preprints[2] (rapidly published, but without pre-publication peer review) and journal articles (slower, but peer reviewed) can work in parallel as communication channels for scientific research results.

On November 12, Rosemeire Pinto received about 18 students in the workshop The search for scientific evidence in health information sources. Using the PICO – TS (Patient-Person-Population, Intervention, Control, Outcome, Time, Study Design) methodology, Rosemeire explained to the participants how to structure the research question. Using examples and using the VHL information sources, Rosemeire showed how to use the research resources used in the main information sources to narrow or broaden the search, as well as how to choose the descriptors through DeCS for a more accurate result, and others valuable lessons that kept the class interested for more than 3 hours of course, a notable fact for non-classroom courses.

rose_felsoIn addition, Rosemeire explained how to create search strategies and stressed the importance of adapting them according to the source consulted, such as, for example, PubMed, in addition to presenting practical search tips and examples that only those who know the topic deeply can know. – and teach.

The last content of the workshop, considered extremely important, was to present how to evaluate the search results, according to the methodology used by the different types of studies, choosing those with the highest level of evidence, to answer the search question.

At the end, Rosemeire made herself available to the participants to answer questions and answered doubts about the topics presented. Undoubtedly, it was a very interesting workshop for young doctors and medical students that, in addition to contributing to access to qualified information for their research topics, also encourages scientific production in health among this new generation of professionals.

According to Diego González, “it has been a very positive experience to share information and scientific communication in health with the medical students who participate in these Congresses and in the three previous editions. You can count on BIREME as an ally of this Federation in order to encourage research in new generations”.


[1] F1000Reseaarch blog. What is post-publication peer review.

[2] Some preprint collections such as SciELO Preprints, Arca Fiocruz, and the preprints from medRxiv and bioRxiv onCOVID-19 are available at the VHL Regional Portal 

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