In this inaugural blog for the ISIS project I thought, perhaps, we should explain ourselves. What’s the point? Why have we inflicted yet ANOTHER website upon the unsuspecting public, not to mention the hair-pulling, wailing and crash-course in web-site wrangling we have inflicted upon ourselves?
One afternoon, nearly two years ago, I did something rather dangerous, (while replying to 5946th email I had received requesting information on some aspect of infant sleep research) and had a GOOD IDEA that ‘someone’ needed to create a centralised source of information regarding infant sleep — something evidence-based, that drew together all the different strands of research on infant sleep into a single location and made it accessible to people who could actually use it in their work and in their lives. Fortunately at the time I was busy writing up a whole pile of results from previous research projects, so I wasn’t tempted to take on the task myself.
Eventually, however, a couple of months later an email snuck into my inbox about Research Council funding for translating academic research into outputs accessible for research users, and particularly emphasising an interest in projects that addressed Health and Wellbeing. A large incandescent light-bulb appeared over my head, and I promptly fired off a few emails to see if anyone would talk me out of the good idea that was rapidly turning itself into a funding application. Nobody did, and infact everyone I contacted was encouraging… A couple more rounds of email later and spokespeople from several organisations were willing to write letters of support, and to partner us in such a venture. Responses were enthusiastic: a web-based resource for infant sleep information would be very helpful for parents seeking information on infant sleep, for health care staff to keep abreast of the latest evidence, to share with parents and to inform local policy, and for parenting organisations to share with their members.
So we drafted our proposal for a UK-based Infant Sleep Information web-site, dreamt up a name with an easily remembered acronym, and submitted our application. Six months later we received copies of the reviewers’ and assessors comments, and were asked to respond. A month after that we received notice of a funding award, and once the 2010-11 academic teaching year was over we commenced work on creating ISIS.
The preparation phase of ISIS has taken us 6-7 months. Starting from scratch we have (with the help of several people more experienced than us) designed and built a website, amassed large piles of research papers that we have sorted, sifted and distilled, trawled the inter-webs to find out what current sources of information exist, and written pages and pages of content: summaries for parents, and more detailed discussions full of references for health professionals. We have collected feedback on the concept, site design and proposed content from hundreds of attendees at the UNICEF Babyfriendly conference, and held multiple steering committee meetings with our partner representatives who have commented extensively on everything we have sent them.
Friends of the ISIS facebook site undertook beta-testnig of the site in February, and alerted us to non-working links, odd organisation of information, appearance issues in different browsers and the like. We have spent the last few weeks ironing out wrinkles, fumigating for bugs, and attempting to type with crossed-fingers while hoping we’d get everything ready in time for our self-appointed launch-date of March 31st (carefully avoiding April 1st, lest anyone should think we are having a laugh!).
And here you have it — the initial phase of ISIS — infant sleep information covering sleep development, sleep management and sleep safety and wellbeing.in total 50 pages of information — and we’ve barely made a dent in the long list of elements we would like the website to provide. Very soon we hope to have pdf versions of the parent summaries available for download. We are conducting a systematic review on sleep training, the results of which will be posted here. We are talking with Durham University about the creation of an ISIS phone app. We still have large piles of research to summarise and upload, cited references to compile, ‘coming soon’ spaces still to fill, and someone has to think up a blog-post every month!
Many thanks are due to Charlotte and Dawn, who have done the majority of the work you see here — to Rosie, Sue, Jim, Janette, Jill, Marion and Ann our steering committee reps, to Alex our IT guru, and Amy our creative expert (both of who have cheerfully tolerated our unclear directions, mind-changing, and zillion email queries), and to our enthusiastic cheerleaders around the world who know who they are
Please tell us your impressions, what you’d like to see us add, or change (comments below are enabled) — and most of all, please tell your friends, colleagues, strangers on the bus to come and explore www.isisonline.org.uk.
Helen and the ISIS team.