All terms or descriptors listed can be used for online searching. Almost all of them are used for both indexing and cataloging. In the indexing process, indexers assign as many descriptors as are needed to accurately characterize the content of a journal article. Of the 10 to 12 assigned, those representing the most significant points are identified with an asterisk in the online citation. It is under those descriptors that the citation can be located in Index Medicus. The remaining descriptors are used to identify concepts which have also been discussed in the item, but that are not the primary topics.
MeSH has special types of descriptors that are not used in Index Medicus (and thus are never preceded by an asterisk in the bibliographic citation), but that are available for both indexing and online searching. These are:
In the Annotated Alphabetic MeSH, printed entry terms are see cross-references to a MeSH descriptor and are also displayed as backward cross-references under the preferred descriptor (see the illustration at NEOPLASMS.
In addition, there are entry terms that are not printed. They consist of variations in the form, word order, or spelling of a descriptor or printed entry term. Trade names of drugs and equipment are usually not printed, but may exist as non-print entry terms.
All Publication Types are printed in the body of the Annotated MeSH. A list of Publication Types and associated usage is printed in this introduction.The complete list of 2003 Publication Types with scope notes is provided.
The following list of descriptors must be entered by an indexer for every journal article citation to which they apply:
|ENGLISH ABSTRACT||SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T|
|FEMALE||SUPPORT, U.S. GOV'T, NON-P.H.S.|
|HUMAN||SUPPORT, U.S. GOV'T, P.H.S.|
Subheadings (or qualifiers) are used in indexing, cataloging, and online searching to qualify MeSH descriptors by pinpointing some specific aspect of the concept represented by the descriptor. For example, "LIVER/drug effects" indicates that the article or book is not about the liver in general, but about the effect of drugs on the liver.
In the past, there were four types of subheadings. Only topical subheadings are in current use. Form, language, and geographic subheadings, previously used in cataloging, are no longer used by NLM catalogers but are found in NLM's distributed cataloging records as described in the Cataloging Practices section. Topical subheadings appear alphabetically along with descriptors and cross-references in the Annotated MeSH; they are printed in lower case preceded by a slash, e.g., /etiology.
The section entitled Topical Subheadings with Scope Notes, Abbreviations and Allowable Categories is a complete listing of topical subheadings with definitions, years of entry, abbreviations, and use by tree categories.
See related references indicate the presence of other descriptors that relate to the topic conceptually, e.g., NAVAL MEDICINE see related DIVING. Some relationships are recognized routinely: between an organ and a procedure (e.g., BILE DUCTS see related CHOLANGIOGRAPHY); between an organ and a physiological process (BONE AND BONES see related OSTEOGENESIS); between a physiological process and a related disease (BLOOD PRESSURE see related HYPERTENSION). Drugs and chemicals also show standard relationships through the see related device as well. These relationships include those between an organ and a drug acting on it (BRONCHI see related BRONCHOCONSTRICTOR AGENTS); or between a physiological process and a drug acting on it (BLOOD COAGULATION see related ANTICOAGULANTS), etc.
The consider also notation is primarily used on anatomical descriptors. It indicates the presence of other descriptors that relate to the topic linguistically, e.g., BRAIN consider also terms at CEREBR- and ENCEPHAL-. Note that the consider also refers to groups of descriptors beginning with a common stem rather than to a single descriptor.
The main heading/subheading combination notations refer an invalid (and prevented) main heading/subheading combination to the preferred precoordinated descriptor expressing the equivalent concept. For example, at the entries for the descriptors ACCIDENTS, AORTA, and ARM, the references read:
U.S. National Library of Medicine, 8600 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20894
National Institutes of Health, Department of Health & Human Services
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Last updated: 18 October 2002