Table of Contents: 2012 MAY–JUNE No. 386
MLA 2012: NLM Online Users' Meeting: Questions and Answers. NLM Tech Bull. 2012 May-Jun;(386):e6e.
[Editor's note: Below are the questions and answers from the NLM® Online Users' Meeting at the Annual Meeting of the Medical Library Association in Seattle, WA, May 21, 2012. The answers may have been modified to provide more complete information.]
Can you talk about your decision to remove the sound from NIH SeniorHealth?
It was a research decision to remove the audio feature from NIH SeniorHealth. We had a lot of data points that helped us reach this decision; the first is that we saw from our Web analytics that the audio feature was rarely used. When we observed behavior through usability testing, we saw that users tended to turn the audio feature off. So even if we requested that they turn it on, after a certain point they would turn it off because it didn’t fit with the experience they wanted to have on the site. The comment that they often gave was, “this is nice for other people, but for me, I don’t need this.” There are also a lot of screen reader options available that are, in some cases, a better solution because people are very familiar with that tool because they use it across the Web or it just has more advanced features than we are able to offer and maintain. The technical approach that we had for the audio feature doesn’t work on some devices and so we would have needed to re-architect it and improve the technology so that it would work across devices. Given the data I just gave you (i.e., feedback, customer use) it just didn’t seem like a good investment. But if you’re getting feedback from your constituents, we’d love to hear it.
You did a great review of Specialized Information Services (SIS) products. I interact with the environmental health department at the school of public health and it would be helpful if I had a nice presentation to use when I talk to them. Do you have something to offer?
We don’t have any canned presentations, but I’ll take that suggestion back to NLM. [Editor’s note: For more information on SIS products see Janice Kelly’s PowerPoint Presentation from the Sunrise Seminar and listen to the presentations made at the NLM exhibit booth theater.]
I’m interested in the meeting abstracts. Do you have any other mechanism that will be collecting meeting abstracts?
The decision to discontinue collecting meeting abstracts was made because we can’t convert them in a timely manner. For example, we made the 2010 AIDS meeting abstracts available in January 2012 when they were two years old. Our biggest hurdle was converting the content to a format that we can easily put online. In order to process meeting abstracts we started with a print version and scanned it or with a CD ROM that was even more difficult from which to extract the data. Unlike journals, or even books, the conferences and the contractors are not motivated to provide the content in a digital format because they only produce it for their conference.
PubMed Health focuses on systematic reviews on clinical effectiveness and MedlinePlus is a consumer health resource. They are not intended to overlap. I invite you to come by the booth and attend the PubMed Health presentation at the NLM Theater where Hilda Bastian, one of the main people leading the PubMed Health project, will be giving a presentation and you can get more information from her.
I have a general comment. I really like what you did with PubMed and the filters; they make searching so much easier. The only problem was that the day you implemented it I was teaching. However, the next day I got the new brochures and you did everything so timely so I have to compliment you on that.
Our students are confused when we teach PubMed, PubMed Central, PubMed Health, comparative effectiveness research, other PubMed products. Have you considered creating an integrated or federated search to replace the NLM Gateway that will search all of these products? I was at the SWETS booth and they have a nice piece of software that would help NLM and a lot of our users.
The PubMed filters are brand new so there may be some tweaks and changes. If you have comments, please send them to us through the Write to the Help Desk link on any PubMed page. We appreciate your feedback and watch for trends through the comments you send us. This information helps us to improve our products.
Yes, the Gateway is gone and it did integrate resources, but quite frankly, few people used it. Federated searching across similar databases works well, but the key is to have similar data types. The Gateway transformed to a pilot project because the usage was very minimal and continued to decrease. We will take your comment back about integrated approaches to some of the databases. [Editor's Note: NCBI offers a federated-like search page for the NCBI databases called the Entrez cross-database search page.]