We have been waiting months for it, it has been announced several times, we have seen previews, webinars, small changes were introduced over time, till suddenly, today (30-09-09) there was a bright button on the front page of PubMed inviting you to “Try the redesigned PubMed”.
You can click on the button or go directly to http://preview.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed.
As a matter of fact @pfanderson already informed fellow tweeting librarians about the PubMed preview link the day before (see Tweet) and within minutes the entire Twitter Librarian community was buzzing about it (see the start of the discussion, taken from Eagledawg post on this subject). People thought that the link was not meant to be public, because it was picked up from a webinar, and no official announcement had been made. But today the new PubMed (first time I see the ®?) is live -although still optional-, accompanied by an official announcement of the redesign at NLM Technichal Bulletin (later followed by a post on Linkout in the PubMed Redesign).
Patricia has depicted the changes in a Powerpoint Slide (see post at Emerging Technologies Librarian: What I most want to be able to find in the new Pubmed.
My take on this:
- While the front page looks “Functional, clear, ‘modern’” as someone on Patricia’s blogpost said, I agree with David Rothman, that there are “TONS of wasted screen real estate on that front page”. Why is the search bar hidden at the top?
- The buttons themselves are relatively easy to find and understand. Although some options like “PubMed Quickstart” are not always straightforward (mistaken for “easy search option” instead of HELP). But that is probably just a matter of getting used to the new design.
- But what happens if you search: The Details-tab is no longer there and the History is gone. Yes, Limits, Preview/Index, History and Details tabs’ features have been consolidated in Advanced search (see techbull).
- This means in practice that the front page only lends itself for performing one-search-at-the–time, without being able to check the Details-tab (only indirectly by going to Advanced Search). It needs little imagination to foresee what will happen. Users will type in (“Google”) terms, the combinations of which are inspired by the “Auto suggest” function. There is no way to check the mapping of the words, there is no way to combine MeSH and textwords (unless you know them by head). Basically this search page only lends itself to “quick and dirty searches”, the “One string only”-Google searches. The new PubMed Interface is all about “Serependity”. Some people may like that. I don’t (mostly…).
- Once done it is easier to save the search or take and RSS-feed (but given the quality of the search…) .
- No functionalities have gone, all there has been done is replacing the functions. But this can (and in my view) has implications for the functionality of PubMed itself,
- Thus advanced searchers have to use the “Advanced Search”. But in contrast to the front page this one is full of limits, indexes and bars that should be wisely (and often not) applied. For people searching for evidence this site is not handy at all. In fact, I find it a real nuisance to use.
I agree with Creaky: some 3rd party tools seem more adequate for beginners/simple searches. But for advanced searches I will move to OVID MEDLINE, for good. Alas I still have to teach my clients and students PubMed. It will be quite a task to see how that can be best done.
So I conclude:
“It is possible that I am about to preach to the choir, but I am going to come right out and say it anyway. I hate PubMed. I hate it with a burning passion. For a site that is as vital to scientific progress as PubMed is, their search engine is shamefully bad. It’s embarrassingly, frustratingly, painfully bad.”
Looks familiar? Anna Kushnir said that almost one and a half year ago... And Anna did get her way. Her ranting elicited a response of Dr. Lipman of the NCBI who reassured her “that a number of changes are underway that will make PubMed work better for her and many other users”. Pubmed is now “easy to use” for people like her. Will there come a PubMed that suits me too?
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