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  August 1, 2003 [posted]
 
 
  NLM Online Users' Meeting 2003: Questions and Answers
 
 

drop cap letter for Q uestion:
I would like to be able to enter the journal title in the Single Citation Matcher instead of using the title abbreviation. I would also like to search by journal title word or the complete title, because it can be very confusing when you are trying to teach a doctor to use the Single Citation Matcher. Most of the time they do not know the abbreviation.

Answer:
You can use either the journal title abbreviation or the full journal title in the Single Citation Matcher. The full titles tend to be trickier to enter correctly, as these can include city names, dates, and special characters, such as parentheses (which should be left out). It may be helpful to find the title in the Journals Database, which can be searched using a single word from the title. (Regarding the Journals Database, if you simply want to retrieve all citations from that journal, you can then use the option in the Journals Database to link to a PubMed search for that title. If you prefer to get additional journal information, you can go directly from the Journals Database to the record for the journal in LocatorPlus.) We will investigate linking from the Journals Database to the Single Citation Matcher.

Question:
Could you explain what the Surgeon General's Index Catalogue really is, where the new electronic version of the Index Catalogue will be, and how it will relate to OLDMEDLINE?

Answer:
The Index Catalogue is a multiple series of book catalogs that is considered by most people to be the most important resource in the history of medicine, particularly for the 19th century. It is an integrated catalog that contains journal articles, books and pamphlets, all interfiled. The entries include information about people and dates of activities. It is a rich resource of information, but not neatly compartmentalized into different types of bibliographic records. The various series record the same items, and many items were also concurrently cited in other print indexes, so duplicate entries are a challenge.

The Index Catalogue will be available from the NLM Web site. It will be a separate file from OLDMEDLINE, because the data come from two different sources. The citations from the printed Index Catalogue have not been reviewed and checked against OLDMEDLINE. NLM actually does not know how many citations in the Index Catalogue also appeared in Current List of Medical Literature and early volumes of Index Medicus. We know there is an overlap; we dont know how much. We also dont know how much overlap there is between the Index Catalogue and the catalog data that is in LocatorPlus. One of the interesting challenges is going to be making connections between these databases and getting information that is only available in one linked into the other -- a non-trivial proposition because Index Catalogue is not a unit record system.

This database is going to be quite useful by allowing people to search across the multiple series of the Index Catalogue. But it is not going to be like MEDLINE where, when you do a search against the database, you only get one retrieval and its all neatly together. Links are going to be required. Once we have these data in machine-readable form, we will work to make it more like what we are used to with the capabilities of LocatorPlus and MEDLINE.

Question:
When I am searching SERHOLD for journal titles I find it inconvenient that I have to know the official journal abbreviation in order to retrieve them. Also, in LocatorPlus, I recently experienced problems retrieving journal titles that used ampersands.

Answer:
For SERHOLD, the number one change requested by users is to be able to search the title by keyword or truncation. It is the change that is number one on our list as well. However, this change cannot be considered until we redesign SERHOLD, which is scheduled to occur after the DOCUSER and Requests modules are redesigned. Better title searching capabilities for SERHOLD are on the horizon.

If a serial has an ampersand in the title of the orginal bibliographic piece, it would be cataloged with the ampersand. NLM has been willing to put an alternative title on a serial record upon request so that the serial is retrievable using either & or the word "and."

Question:
Two users trained many years ago expressed concern that indexing quality has diminished in recent years.

Answer:
The machine-assisted system (Medical Text Indexer) mentioned in earlier remarks is used by many indexers but it is not used in MEDLINE indexing without human intervention. We want to know if our indexing is slipping. Please send specific examples to our customer service staff.

[Editor's Note: No specific examples were provided at the meeting; however, two users provided NLM staff with three examples a few days after the Annual Meeting ended. NLM staff examined the three examples and we are pleased to provide a summary of our responses below:]

  1. User Comment: The check tag ADULT did not appear on a citation to an article that was a meta-analysis of several studies.

    Response: According to NLM Indexing policy, the check tag ADULT is not required for this citation. In this specific article there are only two instances when the author refers to studies with adults, but neither gives specific chronological ages. The check tag ADULT refers to subject 19-44 years old, so it would have been misleading to add this heading. HUMAN was correctly used as a check tag in the indexing record.

  2. User Comment: Proctocolectomy Restorative should have been used in indexing some articles. In some instances a surgeon might have expected to retrieve these articles. In other citations, the searcher felt that articles describing pouchitis, a condition/disease that can exist in patients who have undergone restorative protocolectomy, also should have been indexed to PROCTOCOLECTOMY, RESTORATIVE.

    Response: As a result of this comment, we added PROCTOCOLECTOMY, RESTORATIVE to a small number of citations. These citations did not seem to represent a recent downward trend in the quality of indexing as they covered articles from 1992-2002.

    The indexers who did not add PROCTOCOLECTOMY, RESTORATIVE to citations indexed to POUCHITIS were following policy correctly, as our annotation for POUCHITIS states "inflammation of an ileal resevoir after restorative proctocolectomy so do not index under PROCTOCOLECTOMY, RESTORATIVE unless particulary discussed."

    We will begin monitoring the indexing of all articles in which restorative protocolectomy appears in the title or abstract and will add a "warning" to our indexing system, so that if COLECTOMY is entered, the indexer is reminded that PROCTOCOLECTOMY, RESTORATIVE should be used when appropriate.

  3. User Comment: The term CUTANEOUS FISTULA was not applied to citations about enterocutaneous fistula.

    Response: The user was not aware that CUTANEOUS FISTULA did not become a MeSH heading until 1994. The concept of enterocutaneous fistula was indexed with other terms before that date.

In these examples, we were confident about the quality of our indexing. Nonetheless, we are grateful to receive these comments because they point out ways in which we can improve the information about MeSH and indexing policies that we provide to users.

NLM is always concerned about the quality of its indexing. Please send an e-mail to Sheldon Kotzin at kotzin@nlm.nih.gov with any error that you think you may have found. We certainly want to know if you think our indexing is slipping, and if you have specific examples where you believe a term was omitted, please let us know.

Question:
Thank you for all the wonderful changes to PubMed. It just gets better and better, but I'd like to request that when you're going to make these wonderful changes, perhaps on the homepage of PubMed there could be something that says, "Coming soon: You will be able to e-mail your requests" or "Coming soon: A whole new MeSH Browser," so that our users and we, as instructors up in the front, don't get surprised on the days changes are implemented.

Answer:
We do apologize for springing the MeSH Database on you. While we were working on the new MeSH Database for a future release, the old PubMed MeSH Browser developed a problem that was causing a significant inconvenience for users. Rather than redirect programmer efforts away from the new database to fix the PubMed MeSH Browser, we decided to speed up the release of the new MeSH Database, knowing that we would have to release it before many of you saw the announcement.

The best way to keep abreast of coming changes to PubMed is to subscribe to the NLM-Announces mailing list, which includes notices of new items from the NLM Technical Bulletin. We try to provide at least one week notice for changes and are sometimes able to provide over a months notice this way. Announcements of significant changes do appear on the PubMed homepage, but usually not until they have been implemented. The New/Noteworthy page carries dates and summaries of all changes for the past year.

Question:
Fax no longer equals rush, but sometimes people still request fax delivery expecting rush service. Is there a way to get DOCLINE to specify that something is a rush request?

Answer:
Yes, it is an issue that has come up. In DOCUSER, a library can specify whether or not it will support a "Rush" request and this element is searchable. As we've been working on the DOCUSER redesign, we're working on ways to make "Rush" more visible. Everyone tends to have a different definition of "Rush" so libraries need to define their "Rush" service in their DOCUSER record. As we finish with the DOCUSER redesign, we're going to move into the Request module and "Rush" requesting is one of the things we'll be looking at. We'll also be reviewing electronic delivery in general as opposed to requesting fax delivery or Ariel delivery. For now, borrowers should indicate "Rush" in the comments field of the request.

Question:
When somebody does submit a rush request, can it pop up automatically on the lender's side instead of waiting for the next download?

Answer:
We have been considering a separate Messages line item so you would see rush requests separate from a standard request. We will be looking at this closely during the redesign of the Requests module.

Question:
Is everything in PubMed Central also in PubMed?

Answer:
Every article deposited in PubMed Central should have a citation and abstract (when one exists) in PubMed.

Question:
Is there a way for the NLM Technical Bulletin to be e-mailed to people automatically?

Answer:
Everytime a new article is published in the NLM Technical Bulletin it is announced on the NLM-Announces mailing list. We have no plans to e-mail it.

Question:
I'm wondering whether some of the Regional Medical Libraries (RMLs) send out articles from their region -- whether it's the entire issue or selected articles.

Answer:
The RMLs offer access to the information offered in the NLM Technical Bulletin in several different ways:

  • Web - Most of the RMLs provide a link to the NLM Technical Bulletin from their Web site. The position of the link varies.
  • Newsletter - Most of the RMLs include the Table of Contents either in the printed copy or linked in the electronic version of their newsletters.
  • Listserv - Most Regions send announcements on their regional listservs.

Contact your RML for further information.

Question:
It would be helpful to have a PDF version of the NLM Technical Bulletin available once the issue is complete.

Answer:
When an issue is completed it is announced on the NLM-Announces mailing list. There are no plans to produce a PDF version. However, NLM is working on a printer friendly HTML version of the NLM Technical Bulletin. We hope to have this available in 2004.

Question:
In your initial comments, you mentioned upcoming changes to PubMeds History and Cubby. Can you say something about how you are going to enhance those features? I am concerned about how I teach users to use these features now.

Answer:
Some of the things we hope to work on in the coming year include:

  • Adding the ability to use History search statement numbers in Cubby stored searches;
  • Adding an indicator to remind you that you have logged into the Cubby for that day;
  • Adding the capability to have your Cubby stored searches e-mailed to you on a regular basis;
  • Modifying the History feature so you can delete selected searches.

Question:
A lot of the subsets that you have in Limits are fabulous, but my users don't discover them on their own. Maybe as you're looking at a re-design at some point, some of those could be a little more visually available.

Answer:
Thank you for the suggestion.

Question:
When searching in the Journals Database and using the link for a title to a PubMed search, that journal search is displayed as a journal code. It's hard to remember what journal you've searched for when you're doing many searches, because it's not identified as the journal title. Could this be changed so that the search in PubMed is displayed as something recognizable?

Answer:
Yes. We plan to change the PubMed search that is done by the Journals Database to also include the title abbreviation, so that you will know what journal has been searched.

Question:
Our users consistently request foreign articles (in error) and they are disappointed when I have to point out a reference that is not in English. Would NLM consider adding a visual clue as a prompt next to the search box that asks, "Do you only want English language articles?" Instead of NLM defaulting the language to English, we could let the user make the choice to restrict to English only. Some attendees agreed with this questioner while others said that their users would be extremely disappointed if foreign language articles were not readily accessible.

Answer:
Many users feel that the combination of square brackets around non-English article titles and the spelling out of the foreign language is a sufficient indication of a non-English article. Nonetheless, the PubMed Development Team will consider other changes that might make the ability to limit to English language citations more apparent to users. As I mentioned in my remarks, fifty percent of MEDLINE use on PubMed is from users outside of the United States. Let us not forget the world-wide value of MEDLINE data.



black line separting article from citation

NLM Online Users' Meeting 2003: Questions and Answers. NLM Tech Bull. 2003 Jul-Aug;(333):e7b.

 


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