Recently, I have been conducting a surve …

In Uncategorized on May 30, 2008 by Danielle

Recently, I have been conducting a survey on the merits, or lack thereof, of a database platform called Ovid SP. When they heard about the survey, several people sent me a review from Information World Review. Thinking this name sounded quite authoritative, I expected the review to be thorough and unbiased. How wrong could I have been? The review is quite biased and written in a peppy, naive, “What will they think up next?” tone. For example:

“The fact that you can use all or any of these tools to search simultaneously across all subscribed to content types just adds to the pleasure, and using OvidSP truly is a pleasure.”


“But scroll down on the left and you discover the real joy of the OvidSP Results Manager…”

I find it hard to believe this review has not been commissioned by the folks at Wolters Kluwer, as it appears to have a definite link with the company behind Ovid. How can one say that there is nothing to criticise about the new Ovid redesign, as the review author does, when the information science community who actually uses this platform daily have plenty of concerns?

For example, the Krafty Librarian describes one concern their organisation had had with the Basic Search (NLP):

“At our library we were concerned because we noticed the NLP was forgetting to include MeSH terms as part of the related terms. ”

“Will Basic Search searches be reproducible? An emphatic no. Field searching will be, but not basic searching. This is a problem for users, and librarians.”

The second quotation is from the UBC Academic search blog.

I have never had the occasion to use the Basic search, as we alway do systematic searches at my organisation (although I have tested it and found it wanting). However, Advanced search shares some of the same inconveniences. The UBC blog mentions that screen space is wasted with the Search Aid (I never use this) and the Ovid SP tip. This second ‘feature’ is terrible if you are like me and increase the size of the display font to make Ovid readable. The tip shrinks the usable width of the screen to a fraction of the computer screen.

I have experienced many other frustrations with the navigation, functionality and layout of the new Ovid interface. Davey Windey’s “gushy” review reflects on none of these. From Windey’s review, I learn two things–the importance of impartial reviewing, and the importance of the reviewer’s familiarity with how the resource is meant to be used with regards to the needs of its users.

Information World Review, if it wishes to be read by the information science community, should either commission good quality reviews or else declare the reviewers’ competing interests (like everybody else).


One Response to “Recently, I have been conducting a surve …”

  1. I too noticed and was amazed by that review; ’twas shocking! And as for OvidSP… can we have Ovid Gateway back, please?

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