PubMed; plus ça change

In Uncategorized on July 9, 2008 by Alan Lovell Tagged: ,

There’s some new stuff going on at PubMed. You know what, I can’t remember PubMed ever having changed for years, though I suspect that’s me not noticing new things. I’m new to this information game, you know. Still, they’ve been beavering away recently on Automatic Term Mapping (ATM), a Citation Sensor (update on these two here), and an Advanced Search beta plaything (update here). There’s also an online presentation on the updates by PubMed on 17th July, that you can catch on Adobe Connect, and during which you can use ‘chat’ to ask things of the presenters; it’s first come first served, if you wish to take part, though you’ll be able to view recordings of it after the event.

Automatic Term Mapping has been around on PubMed for ages, it’s what happens when you type in, say, ‘lung cancer’ and PubMed knows not only to look for that as a keyword, but also for the Mesh Heading “lung neoplasms”. You’ve always been able to see this in the ‘details’ tab. A useful feature, I’ve always thought, particularly for inexperienced searchers. Well, the new changes will try and make this feature a little more intelligent and, not necessarily a good thing, broad (using OR terms rather than AND etc)

The Citation Sensor looks nice. It recognizes combinations of search terms that are characteristic of citation searching, e.g., volume/issue numbers, author names, journal titles, and publication dates, which it then matches to citations. These citations are then placed in a yellow box at the top of your search results. It means that you don’t have to go to Single Citation Matcher and play around there – always soooo time consuming!

Finally the advanced search page (beta) is something you can take a look at now. Go to PubMed and click on the link in the top, centre/right of the page, and have a play. It’s not hugely exciting, putting together some search features on the one page with collapsible boxes and making the whole thing look a bit more contemporary and web2.0. The most useful feature is probably the ease at which you can now browse the MeSH index. Anyway, take a look sometime.

Overall nothing here is going to change the world, but it’s nice to know that the good people at the NLH care about us and their product. It must be difficult for them to know that half of their population of users are people who put in a keyword (a la google) and sit back and wait for what they want to appear, while the other half are highly trained and experienced searchers who will note and criticise the smallest, most subtle of changes… which are you?


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