PubMed Changes at the Front Door

1 04 2009

pubmed-logoThis blog has repeatedly discussed the recent and upcoming changes to PubMed (see links below). I didn’t try to hide that I was not impressed with -nor very fond of- most of the changes. But despite these feelings, shared by many (librarians?), the introduced changes are there to stay, whereas the announced changes are about to be implemented…… SOON, VERY SOON!

The most salient changes are the disappearance of the Single Citation Matcher, the Tabs (Limit, Preview/Index, Clipboard, History, etc.) and the Blue Side Bar. Full text icons are already gone (i.e. the green page icon indicating free full text).

Factually, this means that in a short while you can only use the Advanced Search. It will no longer be optional. Besides the shortcomings of this feature (see previous posts), it will also mean that a complex search (when you need to look up MeSH) will take much longer. As discussed before, using “The Index of Fields in the Advanced Search” is not very suitable for this purpose.

As you may know, multi-word terms words are now split and separately searched in all fields instead of searched as one term in title and abstract (ATM or Automatic Term Mapping)* or as Michelle Kraft of the Krafty Librarian” describes it: ATM is basically just Googlizing the search process.

To get a complete picture of the upcoming changes, I recommend the excellent post of Michelle Kraft describing all these changes in detail (see here).
Michelle also refers to two valuable information sources:

To be honest, I fear the upcoming changes. Personally, I already switched to the OVID interface to search MEDLINE, but I’m afraid of how it will affect the search courses we give and the way the patrons will search PubMed. Given the past experiences (usage of wrong MeSH, too easy use of limits, no use of Clinical Queries), I’m not very confident about it.


Note: *the mapping process with MeSH terms remains unchanged.

You may also want to read:




10 responses

1 04 2009
Anne Marie Cunningham

I don’t see what is wrong with googilizing the search process. As you point out it is still possible to use OVID, and surely putting phrases in quotes works the same way as in google?
I never use MeSH in pubmed. For that I use OVID. To me, Pubmed should be an easy to use way of accessing Medline. So making it simpler will encourage people to use it rather than just googling. The think that would most improve Pubmed for me is the option to look at citations as in Google scholar.
Anne Marie

1 04 2009

Anne Marie, I didn’t expect it, but the medical students we train on PubMed really, really love MeSH. They like the control and the term suggestions and just seeing right away how to limit to some of the subheadings and such, and often find this easier than just entering a Google-like search in the search box.

1 04 2009
Anne Marie Cunningham

OK… I’m trying to think of one ofthe times I recently used Pubmed to look for clinical info. I was seeing a patient with Marfan’s syndrome with a student. She had anaemia and the student wondered if this might be a complication of Marfan’s. How would using MeSH help in a situation like this?
I’m very willing to learn how to improve my own clinical searching!
Anne Marie

6 04 2009

Do you know when ‘Soon, very soon…’ will be? I saw these changes announced in PubMed’s Technical Bulletin in November/December 2008, where the timeframe was worded as ‘In the near future’. Ever since, I’ve been dreading the impending change, especially since I could just see it happening on the day of one of our instructions (bye bye screencasts etc…). So far, nothing yet. Any news as to when this will happen, approximately?

10 04 2009
a user

@bianca The change will not be instant, and there will be notice, don’t worry about that.

Also, don’t worry about the disappearance of Single Citation Matcher… despite the rumors, it isn’t going anywhere.

13 04 2009

@anne marie. About your first comment: Not everyone can access OVID MEDLINE. I think PubMed should have the same functionalities as OVID. Putting terms between “” doesn’t always succeed in PubMed, and will exclude automatic term mapping. Remember that you often will miss a lot by using quotes. PubMed is a very small database as compared to Google and doesn’t contain the full text. For clinicians it is more important to find really relevant papers than to find the papers that coincidentally use certain words in a particular order.

MeSH are mostly very useful. But it is not as important in every search. In fact you might already use MeSH without noticing it. e.g. if you type anaemia AND marfan syndrome in the search bar, this is translated in appropriate MeSH and keywords (look under Details). It yields only 20 hits, mostly not very relevant, but it is not because of your search.
Perhaps a textbook or review about Marfan would be more useful. If somebody with Marfan is strongly anemic I would wonder, whether he/she didn’t have a serious bleeding, bc that is the most dangerous thing in Marfan. Thus the question would perhaps be: what is a safe Hb in Marfan? Google Scholar might also be useful, because you can search in the full text, not only in title and abstract.

Generally speaking, I always look under Details whether terms are translated correctly. Most times I also go to the MeSH-database, to check whether the most suitable MeSH are used. I use MeSH together with textwords. Usually I don’t apply limits or MESH subheadings, but use clinical queries and/or (other) search filters.

Would you like me to show some searches in separate posts?

@rachel Indeed. Thnx.

@Dear Bianca. I am as concerned as you are that the the changes will be suddenly introduced. Asked people on twitter whether they had more info on when to exactly expect the changes. Nobody could tell. Probably the wisest thing is to anticipate and adapt your courses and instructions as if the advance search was already implemented. It will save you some nasty surprises.

@anonymous user. Indeed, the Single Citation Matcher is now more or less included in the advanced search (2nd block).

20 05 2009
Anne Marie Cunningham

Hello again Laikas

I meant to come back to this blog ages ago but I was reminded of it after reading this

In the example I gave I knew that anaemia was not a recgnised side effect of Marfan’s, but I was searching for something like a case report which might show that there is a possible connection. That is what I wanted to demonstrate to the patient. We know the cause of her anaemia- she has menorrhagia.

The student was thiinking in exactly the same way as you with regards to damage to blood vessels. But beeding due to aortic dissection is catastrophic. It is not the cause of the chronic anaemia, which is the condition this patient had.

The fact that I pulled up on;y irrelevant resukts was enough to reassure me (and the student!)

Thanks again

22 04 2009
a user

Single Citation Matcher will stay where it is, it won’t become a part of advanced search… even if advanced search contains the same functionality.

My educated guess, I think you’ll see previews of changes around the middle of the year.

4 08 2009
Check-in | Eddie

[…] been exceptionally busy at work, we’re beginning to finish up a much needed, much discussed by librarians, redesign of PubMed.  We’ve put a ton of user interaction effort into this […]

1 10 2009
PubMed® Redesign is here… to try. « Laika’s MedLibLog

[…] Pubmed changes at the front door (2009/04/01/) […]

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