Beyond the Conference: Health Sciences Librarians’ Motivations for Publishing




Conferences, Publishing, Motivational theory, Intrinsic motivation


Introduction: Previous studies have found that only 21.8% to 28% of abstracts presented at the annual Medical Library Association (MLA) conferences are later published as journal articles. What motivates health sciences librarians to take the next step in publishing and disseminating their work? This study will answer the following questions: 1) Are librarians presenting at MLA conferences more motivated to publish due to internal motivational factors (e.g., “to build a professional reputation for myself”), external motivational factors (e.g., “I am expected to participate in research for my job”), or a mix of both? 2) Do motivations for publication differ between academic and hospital librarians? 3) Do motivations for publication differ between those who published in peer-reviewed journals and those who published in other venues?  

Methods: In this retrospective cohort study, the team surveyed first authors of abstracts presented at the MLA conferences in 2012 and 2014 to determine if they later published their work in any full-text format. If they did publish, the team asked authors where their work was published and the primary and secondary reasons for pursuing publication. The reasons for publication included internal and external motivational factors identified from the library science literature. Chi-square tests were used to assess differences in motivation. 

Results: One hundred and sixty one authors responded to the survey, and of these, 49 authors reported that they had published their abstract(s). Fifty-one percent (n=25) of respondents selected only internal motivational factors, 18.4% (n=9) selected only external motivational factors, and 30.6% (n=15) reported a mix of both. The author found no statistically significant differences between hospital and academic librarians, or those who published in peer-reviewed journals versus other venues. 

Discussion: Findings indicate that librarians who chose to publish their work after presenting at annual MLA conferences are primarily motivated to publish due to internal factors. Interventions designed to encourage MLA presenters to publish their work should consider ways to cultivate presenters’ internal motivation.  


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How to Cite

Hinrichs, R. J. (2023). Beyond the Conference: Health Sciences Librarians’ Motivations for Publishing . Hypothesis: Research Journal for Health Information Professionals, 35(1).