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18 May 2010

PubMed vs. OVID

I was just searching for some guides or articles on how to search using MeSH in PubMed and OVID to prepare for my discussion with Prof. Razali tomorrow, and I came across an interesting article by the Krafty Librarian here.

Here's an excerpt of her musings. You may read the rest in the link I've stated just now.

MeSH Terms and the New PubMed

Yesterday I attended an online webinar focused on the changes in the new PubMed. Holly Ann Burt from the GMR was the instructor and she was great. (I will be linking to the recording when it is available.) However at one point in time during the session one librarian became rather frustrated with how the designers made it that much more difficult to search PubMed using MeSH. Her complaint was that doctors were not going to know where to click and how to search using MeSH within the new version of PubMed. My first thought was that most doctors weren’t using MeSH prior to the redesign anyway. Sad, but I think pretty much true.

I must confess, I am not a huge PubMed user. My MoC (Medline of Choice) is through Ovid. I really love Ovid’s mapping in Advance Search, I think that is one of its strongest features. The mapping allows me to quickly type in a keyword in the search box and be presented with the correct MeSH term. The mapping forces you to at least see a MeSH term, which is one of the strongest features of MEDLINE. Does it work all the time? No sometimes you can get some wonky results when you have an odd term (or when you unknowingly type it incorrectly). But even in that case I like it because it forces me to re-examine my terms and strategies early in the search process. I am not blindly searching via keyword and either missing vital information or retrieving everything under the sun.

I have always felt PubMed hides the MeSH in the closet. It really never had very good front end mapping. If you really wanted to be sure you were searching using MeSH terms you had to go to the MeSH database, search it and then ADD it to your PubMed search. Clunky. What doctor wants to do that? Many don’t. Heck I don’t want to do that and I am a librarian, but I do it when I search PubMed. Of course over the years PubMed has made various improvements on the keyword searching. In this latest version, PubMed uses Automatic Term Mapping (all behind the scenes) to search for the keyword as a MeSH term, subheading, Publications type, Pharmacologic action term, and All Fields. Personally I think this produces a ton of results with a lot of extra junk citations. I think it is just one step better than Google.


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