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What's New in MeSH

Highlights of Recent Improvements and Changes

These headings are immediately available by downloading the latest version of 2016 MeSH data. For more information see: NLM Technical Bulletin, Jan-Feb 2016, New 2016 MeSH Headings: Zika Virus Infection and Zika Virus

  • MeSH is available in RDF Linked Data format.

  • 2016 MeSH in XML format, ASCII, and MeSH/MARC formats is available for download.

  • MeSH on Demand is a new tool that can automatically identify relevant MeSH terms from text such as an abstract or grant summary.

Projects Completed for 2016 MeSH

In addition to responding to user requests for changes and additions we have completed several projects that will improve MeSH vocabulary structure and content.

MeSH Hierarchy (Trees) Revision: In the past MeSH headings were more loosely organized into a tree hierarchy. A heading could appear in multiple tree locations depending upon its importance and specificity. In some cases headings would appear two or more times in the same tree at higher and lower levels. This arraignment led to some headings appearing as a sibling (uncle) next to the parent heading that they were also treed under. In other cases a heading was included at a top level so it could be seen more readily in printed material. We reviewed these headings in MeSH and removed either the "Uncle" or "Nephew" depending upon the judgement of our Internal and External reviewers.

People and Professions: In MeSH the M tree is devoted to persons as individuals or members of a group, while Disciplines and Occupations are listed in the H tree. Although this premise held true for most cases we had a large number of exceptions where people were listed as an entry term under their profession. In addition the qualifier "manpower" was used with a profession to indicate the person when a heading for them was not available. We felt this inconsistency required much effort on the part of searchers to determine where to look and what to do. We simplified the trees by moving all people from the professions tree and created new headings for them in the Persons tree. In addition we set into motion a plan to eliminate the use of the manpower qualifier, which is now rarely used and covered by two manpower-related descriptors.

Plants and Food Category Revision: The MeSH J-tree includes food items, while Plants and Animals are under the B-tree. For many years the fact that some plants and animals are also treed under food has been source of confusion for searchers. We received many requests to add and subtract specific plants from food that based upon conflicting sources of information. In addition the range of exotic plants being eaten has expanded over the years. To respond to these problems we made major changes to the organization of nutritional phenomena for the 2016 Medical Subject Headings. Nutritionally related headings were brought together for under the MeSH heading "Diet, Food, and Nutrition" was created in the G-7 tree. The headings "Diet" and "Nutritional Physiological Phenomena" along with their child descriptors were moved there. In addition a second tree location for "Food and Beverages" and its child descriptors were added there. Specific plant and chemical headings were removed from underneath "Food and Beverages" because many of the citations indexed with them were not about food or nutritional topics. As a result, searching "Food and Beverages" or "Diet, Food, and Nutrition" now gives a more focused retrieval of citations that are nutritionally related. Articles that discuss a specific plant or chemical in the context of food can still be found through use of coordination of topics instead finding using tree inheritance. For example, a search of "Diet, Food, and Nutrition" AND "Spinach" could be used to find specific citations about the nutritional value of spinach.