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 November 21, 2001 [posted]
 Searchable Online Books Linked to PubMed®

drop cap graphic of letter T he National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) Bookshelf is a growing collection of biomedical textbooks that has been assembled in collaboration with the book publishers. There are currently six books available (see Figure 1), with several more scheduled for inclusion over the coming months. The book content can be found by a direct search, or through hyperlinked phrases in PubMed abstracts that lead to relevant book sections. Most of the books can also be browsed via their Tables of Contents.

  Book List

The pioneering book to be made available through PubMed was Molecular Biology of the Cell, by Alberts et al., published by Garland Publishing, which has been available since December 1999. In response to positive feedback from both users and publishers, a new, scalable database has been developed. This has enabled the ability to search directly the book content, and in the future will allow the project to expand to accommodate more books.

The books can be searched from the Bookshelf Home Page, which also lists the available books in the collection. (Clicking on the book cover icon will display the book's Table of Contents.) As when searching PubMed, the search term is typed in the query box. The search results appear as a list of the books in which the term is found, with the number of book sections having the term indicated as a hyperlink. Clicking on this number provides a list of the sections containing the term, with some context regarding its location in the book. From this list, sections of the book can be reached. Figures and tables can also be retrieved this way; these are differentiated from text sections by small "figure" and "table" icons that appear alongside the title.

The other main route to access the books is via hyperlinked phrases in PubMed abstracts. Terms or phrases found in the Bookshelf collection can be displayed as hyperlinks by clicking 'Books' on a PubMed abstract display. The hyperlinked phrases lead to relevant sections of the books. This provides background information to the research article abstracts, assisting researchers to take cross-disciplinary approaches, as well as helping students and non-experts. The array of terms in the abstract that are hyperlinked depends on the content of the books in the collection. Therefore, as the Bookshelf grows, a broader range of concept links will become available.

When content is viewed, the amount of access allowed to each book varies according to publisher policy. Most publishers are allowing full free access to the content; the whole book can be browsed. Others are limiting navigation to a section or a chapter at a time. All are providing the full content, including all figures and tables, without barriers such as passwords or subscription requirements.

Topics covered by books that are scheduled for inclusion in the near future include immunology, cancer medicine, and developmental biology.

See the Bookshelf sidebar for links to more information on using the books, FAQs, and contact information.

By Jo McEntyre, Ph.D.
National Center for Biotechnology Information

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McEntyre J. Searchable Online Books Linked to PubMed®. NLM Tech Bull. 2001 Nov-Dec;(323):e6.


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Last updated: 16 April 2012