Typically, once research papers are submitted and graded, they sit on a professor’s desk until they become the victims of spring cleaning. In May of 2013, Heather Porter, an assistant professor of rehabilitation sciences in Temple University’s College of Public Health sought to change that.
After developing the program’s inaugural Recreational Therapy (RT) Evidence-Based Practice Day Conference, she began posting students’ research summaries that were presented at the Conference on an open blog -– www.RTWiseOwls.com.
“I saw all the hard work that went into these research projects, and thought ‘how can we make this research available to other students and practitioners’,” said Porter. “Since then we’ve seen it grow to be much more, even though it’s been a very short period of time. Now we’re seeing that it’s a hub for RT evidence-based practice throughout the field.”
From the time it was opened in 2013, Porter’s site has more than tripled in viewership and is visited by users from across the globe. To date, there are over 33 evidence-based research summaries on the site, and Porter is receiving requests from universities across the country asking to adopt the evidence-based research process, and add their student’s work to the site.
Porter has also been approached by the Therapeutic Recreation Journal (TRJ) about the summaries. Nine of the 33 summaries from RTWiseOwls have been republished in the TRJ with another three submitted for next quarter, said Porter.
The opportunity for publication has proved to be a great motivating factor for many of the students considering submissions. “It’s very meaningful for students when they see that the work they’re doing is having an impact beyond a course. It not only helps them professionally, but also aids in advancing their profession. When they’re going out looking for jobs, it really helps to be able to say that they’ve already been published.”
Not content with the success the site has had so far, Porter has plans for the future of the site, building out a larger, more comprehensive database.
“Currently, we’re working with Temple students from the Computer and Information Sciences Department to develop a searchable database for recreational therapy based literature. These enhancements will really help us build out this site to be a comprehensive search engine for evidence-based practice literature related to the scope of recreational therapy practice.”