A national survey of academic articles reading and retrieving of laboratory professionals
Original Article

A national survey of academic articles reading and retrieving of laboratory professionals

Ying Chen1*, Zhenzhen Wang1*, Ying Li1, Bing Gu1,2, Hongchun Li1,2

1School of Medical Technology, Xuzhou Medical University, Xuzhou 221004, China; 2Department of Laboratory Medicine, Affiliated Hospital of Xuzhou Medical University, Xuzhou 221002, China

Contributions: (I) Conception and design: Y Chen, Z Wang; (II) Administrative support: B Gu, H Li; (III) Provision of study materials or patients: B Gu, Y Li; (IV) Collection and assembly of data interpretation: Z Wang, Y Li; (V) Data analysis and interpretation: Y Chen, Z Wang; (VI) Manuscript writing: All authors; (VII) Final approval of manuscript: All authors.

*These authors contributed equally to this work.

Correspondence to: Bing Gu; Hongchun Li. Department of Laboratory Medicine, Affiliated Hospital of Xuzhou Medical University, Xuzhou 221002, China. Email: gb20031129@163.com; 13775891123@163.com.

Background: The laboratory medicine is usually an important hub between the patient and health care system in aspects of diagnosis and monitory of diseases. With so much attention drawn toward the provision of quality laboratory services, it becomes imperative to assess the knowledge of laboratory professionals. This work was therefore aimed at understanding the learning and working situation of laboratory professionals through the investigation of article reading and retrieving.

Methods: The questionnaire designed by “Questionnaire Star” was launched for a month. The survey was conducted among the national laboratory professionals by WeChat from September 27, 2016 to October 27, 2016. The outcome was retrieved and analyzed by “Questionnaire Star” again.

Results: There are 883 questionnaire replies across more than 30 districts in the survey. The responders are the laboratory professionals from different positions including the university students, the postgraduate students, the staffs working at hospital, teachers, retired staffs and so on. When talking about the frequency of literature reading, 59.3% of them chose “monthly or yearly”, 25.8% of them chose “weekly”, 9.1% of the repliers preferred to “daily” and 5.9% never do it. As regards the frequency of consulting academic databases, 37.9% of responders accessed scientific databases weekly and 33.2% accessed monthly, followed were yearly (14.2%), daily (8.1%) and never (6.1%). In addition, we found that 55.4% of the responders never published articles and 40.3% whose article publication numbers were less than 5 every year. Of course, the impact factors of those publications were less than 5 (89.1%) mostly.

Conclusions: The articles reading and retrieving situation of laboratory professionals were simply found by this survey. And it will have a positive influence on the improvement of their specialty learning.

Keywords: Laboratory professional; articles; reading; retrieving

Received: 11 December 2016; Accepted: 19 December 2016; Published: 05 January 2017.

doi: 10.21037/jlpm.2016.12.04


As a scholar said, “If an organization does not learn faster than the rate of change in their environment, they die” (1). Recent years, the laboratory medicine has developed rapidly. New markers and detection technologies are emerging, giving the laboratory medicine new contents and developable space as well as various new challenges to the inspection workers. Therefore, the inspectors should to update the knowledge and skill continually to provide patients with the modern superior health services (2). Literature reading is one of the effective methods to understand the latest developments in the scientific field. However, there have been no relevant articles, as far as we know, described the literature reading and retrieving of the laboratory professionals in our country. Against this background, this study aimed at understanding the awareness of updating the knowledge among national laboratory professionals to assess the work and study situation of them.


The design and analysis of questionnaire

This questionnaire was designed by “Questionnaire Star”, a website typically used to make questionnaire. The questionnaire has several kinds of questions, including sentence completion, single choice and multiple choices. Meanwhile, utilizing powerful analysis function of this website, questionnaire was retrieved and analyzed by it too.

The distribution of questionnaire

WeChat, a social software released by Tencent Inc. in January 2011, has successfully surpassed other social networking tools and become the most fashionable way of mobile social networking in china. At present, its active accounts have reached 438 million (3). By concerning the various WeChat public numbers, people can use mobile phone to browse the relevant information whenever and wherever to understand the latest developments in science. So this software was chose to publicize the questionnaire among laboratory professionals.


In order to having a fair idea of literature’s reading and retrieving among laboratory professionals, this survey was given out for a month. There are 883 replies collected in all up to the closing date and there are more than 30 districts covered by this survey.

The constituent of responders

The largest number of replies were provided by laboratory professionals working in the public hospital (44.9%), followed by university students (41.0%), postgraduate students (5.7%), laboratory professionals working in private hospital and company (5.0%), teachers (1.5%), retired staffs and so on(2.1%) (Figure 1).

Figure 1 Distribution of repliers.

The situations of literature reading

As regards the frequency of reading academic articles, 59.2% responded “monthly or yearly”, 25.8% said “weekly”, 9.0% chose “daily” and 5.9% chose “never” (Figure 2). Among the repliers who chose “daily”, first-class of governmental hospital’s workers accounted for over half proportion (53.8%), followed were postgraduate students (22.5%) and university students studied at key universities (13.8%). It indicates that the three parts above are more positive in daily working and studying than others. Besides, among “never” people, university students who studied at general universities shared a large proportion (65.4%), followed were staffs working at private hospital and company (25.0%). This disparity suggest that the students who studied at university and the staffs working at private hospital and company hardly understand academy or broaden their horizon by reading literatures.

Figure 2 Frequency of article reading.

Moreover, amongst those who have the experiences of reading articles, it be found that there were other valuable information, such as reasons of reading (Table 1), the methods of reading literature (Figure 3) and the most popular journals—Clinical Chemistry and Chinese Journal of Laboratory Medicine were found.

Table 1
Table 1 Reasons of reading among replies
Full table
Figure 3 The methods used by readers.

The situations of literature retrieving

As regards the frequency of consulting academic databases, 37.9% of responders accessed scientific databases weekly and 33.2% accessed monthly, followed were yearly (14.2%), daily (8.1%) and never (6.1%) (Figure 4). Being similar to the situations of literature reading, university students who responded “daily” and “weekly” were higher than staffs working at private hospital and company, however, it is far lower than the first-class governmental hospital’s workers and postgraduate students. When asked about “which database do you usually use”, a large number of them chose foreign database—PubMed (50.1%) and national database—Hownet (49.0%), respectively.

Figure 4 Frequency of article retrieving.

The situations of publication

All participants were also asked the questions of “How many articles do you usually publish each year” and “what are the impact factors of these articles”. The survey reveals that 55.4% of the responders never publish articles, 40.3% whose article publications were less than 5 every year. Of course, the impact factors of those publications are less than 5 (89.1%) mostly.


To authors’ knowledge, this is the first survey to study the learning and working situation of laboratory professionals. In order to expand the coverage, questionnaire was distributed by WeChat. And it is using this powerful and widely used social tool that we collected 883 replies, covering more than 30 districts which include provinces, autonomous districts and municipalities. In addition, the responders were come from various positions of laboratory professionals, which made the data become more representative.

It is clear that the frequency of articles retrieving in domestic focus on monthly (33.2%) and weekly (37.9%). Early this year, an Italy scholar had done a similar survey. The survey revealed that workers often consult academic databases many times per day (17.6%), daily (33.9%) and weekly (34.5%) in Italy (4). The people whose retrieving frequency more than weekly (weekly, daily and many times per day) in Italy is nearly 1.9 times over ours (weekly and daily) (Table 2). However, the people who never access databases in our country (6.1%) are 20 times as much as Italian (Table 2). Besides, there are 92.8% Italian have publications below 5 each year while there are 40.32% in our country (4). The impact factors of those articles at home concentrate on the range of less than 5 mostly. In spite of the fact that impact factor is not the most trustworthy index to reflect journal’s influence power and quality, it is still the numerical, objective, easily accessible parameter compared with other indexes in journal (5). What’s more, there are still 55.38% of responders never have the experience of publishing. It suggests that the awareness of domestic laboratory professionals in updating the knowledge is far below the Italian.

Table 2
Table 2 The comparison of literature retrieving
Full table

The differences between our country and Italy, I think, may be attributed to several factors. Firstly, the importance of laboratory doesn’t be taken seriously whether among clinicians or patients, which reduces the enthusiasm of inspectors to enhance themselves. Besides, increasing automatic equipment has softened workers’ professional judgment and more and more laboratory professionals begin to adapt this “don’t worry” model, causing fewer and fewer workers want to acquire new knowledge and improve their professional skills willingly.

To improve this situation, several measures, in my view, should be taken without any hesitation. First and foremost, laboratory professionals should not only focus on the detection of specimens, but also communicate with the clinicians more closely. Moreover, laboratory should strengthen business assessment and implement cumulative elimination system. Only by these ways can workers have the crisis awareness and update knowledge actively. Last but not least, some lectures and other academic exchange activities should be organized to help laboratory professionals understand the latest scientific research results.

All in all, the result of this survey may be valuable in enlightening national laboratory professionals and helping them to have a more positive attitude towards studying and working under the new medical model. I hope that the medical laboratory workers in our country can strive to accumulate knowledge and understand the latest developments in laboratory medicine to provide better services for patients and clinicians.


Funding: This research was funded by National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 81000754, 81471994), Natural Science Foundation of Jiangsu (No. BK20151154), General Program of the Natural Science Foundation of the Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions of China (No. 16KJD320005), the Scientific Research Foundation for Excellent Talents of Xuzhou Medical College (No. D2016014).


Conflicts of Interest: The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.


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doi: 10.21037/jlpm.2016.12.04
Cite this article as: Chen Y, Wang Z, Li Y, Gu B, Li H. A national survey of academic articles reading and retrieving of laboratory professionals. J Lab Precis Med 2017;2:1.