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NLM Technical Bulletin

NLM Technical Bulletin 1997 Sep-Oct; 298

In This Issue:

Year-End Processing (YEP)

YEP of Stored and Saved Searches and Automatic SDI's


Rebuilding of CATLINE®/ AVLINE®

dot MeSH Coming Attractions

MeSH on the Web

Gold Standard Search

Technical Notes


MEDLINE - 1998 Weekly Update Schedule

AIDSLINE - 1998 Weekly Update Schedule

HealthSTAR - 1998 Weekly Update Schedule

NLM Databases - 1998 Monthly Update Schedule

[This link has been removed because it is no longer valid] 1998 NLM Pricing Algorithm Chart

MEDLARS Pricing Schedule

Current Issue


Back Issues


MeSH Coming Attractions

The following summarizes the additions and changes to the 1998 MeSH:

365descriptors added, including one Publication Type and one geographical, representing concepts with no directly corresponding headings in 1997 MeSH (i.e., new concepts and records);
432descriptors replaced with more up-to-date terminology;
45descriptors deleted;
242Non MeSH headings changed to Index Medicus full MeSH headings;
3Non MeSH headings changed to geographical full MeSH headings;
2geographical subheadings added for cataloging.

MeSH Headings - Changes and Additions

The following changes and additions to MeSH headings are particularly important.

Creation of a new hierarchy: Archaea [B7]. This is one of the three fundamental domains of life along with Bacteria and Eucarya.

Food and Plants
Reorganization of the terminology for plants [B6]. Along with this, food and food industry-related descriptors were removed from the Technology, Industry and Agriculture [J1] tree. This hierarchy was reorganized and a new hierarchy, Food and Beverages [J2], was created.

Descriptors in the area of enzymology [D8] were extensively revised and updated to reflect Enzyme Nomenclature 1992: Recommendations of the Nomenclature Committee of the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Non MeSH Headings

Descriptors previously restricted as Non MeSH (i.e., they could be searched online in ELHILL as explosions, but were not printed in Index Medicus) were either modified and made available as full MeSH headings or they were deleted. Most were modified and made Index Medicus descriptors, generally with some change in the form of the heading. They are generally very broad in nature. Some will not be used in indexing the journal literature but they will be useful in online searching to gather together more specific concepts. They will be used for cataloging of books and other materials.

The Non MeSH terms below were deleted, rather than modified. They either served no purpose in our drive toward specificity and clarity or they conflicted with main headings already in MeSH either in name or in use.

Diseases of Body Regions (Non MeSH)
General Patient Care (Non MeSH)
Health and Disease (Non MeSH)
Leukemia by Immunologic Marker (Non MeSH)
Metabolic Processes (Non MeSH) - made see reference to Metabolism
Miscellaneous Techniques (Non MeSH)
Mouth Physiology (Non MeSH)
Neuron Types (Non MeSH)
Patient Care Characteristics (Non MeSH)
Sexual Reproduction Periods (Non MeSH)
Specialties, Other (Non MeSH)
Study Design (Non MeSH)
Tooth Types (Non MeSH)
United States by Individual State (Non MeSH)
United States by Region (Non MeSH)

Mental Disorders

The terminology for mental disorders was reorganized and expanded in accordance with the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 4th edition. With this revision, both Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms [F1] and Mental Disorders [F3] (formerly Behavioral and Mental Disorders) hierarchies were extensively modified. Nearly all Tree Numbers were changed as a result of the MeSH heading changes.

MeSH Heading Note Changes

The form of MeSH heading notes is in the process of changing in order to make them easier to read and understand. While most notes still retain the old form, some headings that were edited for 1998 MeSH have the new form. Full implementation of the new form for all headings will take place for 1999 MeSH.

The new form combines the old history note and online note into one new (history) note. The new history note will no longer contain information about cross-references that are still part of the heading, because the MEDLARS searcher will retrieve the same citations by typing in those cross-references. Records with the new form of note no longer explicitly denote minors with the phrase "was see under". This phrase has been changed to "use" and the date of the oldest year of the minor is placed in parentheses. See references that are no longer in the system will not have notes.

History Notes

The history note begins with one or more dates unless the MeSH heading was in the system as a main heading (or major descriptor) in 1963 and has remained unchanged as a main heading to the present. A date that is not in parentheses is the year the current form of the MeSH heading entered the system as a major descriptor. A date in parentheses is the year the current form of the MeSH heading entered the system as a minor descriptor (1975-90), or provisional heading (before 1975), or when the concept (or its entry terms) first entered the system. A date in parentheses no longer indicates that the heading was a minor descriptor or had provisional status. The parentheses now indicate the earliest year that the term is directly represented or can be used for online searches with the current form of the heading.

The dates are chronological from right to left so that the left-most is the date of the latest change in status of the MeSH heading (e.g., a change from a minor descriptor to a major descriptor) or the date of re-entry of a MeSH heading after it had previously been deleted from the system. If the history is not continuous, a range of dates is given. Two examples follow.

Cardiac Volume


   STROKE VOLUME is also available

   72(68)    *  History note.

This history note indicates that CARDIAC VOLUME, a major descriptor, or main heading, since 1972, was a provisional heading from 1968-71. For online searching, this heading will retrieve citations back through 1968. Online searchers may determine how this concept was indexed before 1968 from the PI (Previous Indexing) field in the online ELHILL MeSH record.

Sex Determination (Analysis)

   E1.450.855     E5.393.830 

   validation of sex by exam of gonads or genet tests;

   do not confuse with SEX DETERMINATION (GENETICS)

   which is establishment of sex at fertilization; DF:  


   98(63)    *  History note

This history note indicates that SEX DETERMINATION (ANALYSIS) entered the system as a major descriptor in 1998, but the concept first came into the system in 1963 (as shown by the parentheses in the note). The online searcher can therefore use the term to search for citations back through 1966.

Chemical History Notes

Beginning in 1992, history notes for new chemical and drug headings that existed previously as Supplementary Chemical Records were added. The Supplementary Chemical Records in MeSH contain records for chemicals and drugs encountered in the literature and indexed for Index Medicus and MEDLINE but not seen frequently enough to warrant creation of a MeSH major descriptor. Should the volume of material on one of these chemicals increase, however, the concept may be elevated from Supplementary Chemical status to full descriptor MeSH heading status. All citations currently indexed with a chemical MeSH Heading, also contain a Registry Number (RN) field, in which the Name of Substance (the same chemical name used for the MH) is displayed. Reminder: Name of Substance (NM) is a searchable field, but to see the NM displayed, you must include RN in the elements to be printed.

Reminder: Supplementary Chemical names were implemented online with the 8006 (EM). While a History Note (HN) may refer to a date before 1980; be aware that online searching using the Name of Substance (NM) qualifier will retrieve postings only back through 8006 (EM). Any retrieval in apparently earlier files is a result of releveling citations by year of publication of the article, not indexing date. Also, using the Name of Substance (NM) qualifier will give the most comprehensive retrieval from 8006 (EM) forward. Even if the History Note has an ending date (e.g., 1991 for FLUVOXAMINE), the Name of Substance (NM) will continue to retrieve beyond that ending date. Searching by MeSH Heading for a chemical is necessary only when: limiting with a subheading(s), using the asterisk (*MH), or if the MeSH Heading existed before 8006 (EM).

The chemical history note alerts users to the fact that a chemical concept may have been in the system previously in another format even though it is new as a major descriptor and gives the dates of its earlier incarnation. Two examples follow.



   a serotonin uptake inhib & antidepressant 

   92; was FLUVOXAMINE (NM) 1978-91 

The history note (underlined) indicates that FLUVOXAMINE, a new major descriptor in 1992, was a Name of Substance (NM) in the Supplementary Chemical Records from 1978-91. Search on FLUVOXAMINE (NM) to retrieve citations from 8006 (EM) through the present.


   D3.383.606.350                 D3.438.473.250 

   98; use DELAVIRDINE (NM) 1993-97

The history note (underlined) indicates that DELAVIRDINE, a new major descriptor in 1998, was a Name of Substance (NM) in the Supplementary Chemical Records from 1993-97. The new form of note has the word "use" in place of the word "see." After December 15, 1998, search on DELVIRIDINE (NM) to retrieve citations from 1993 to the present.

History Notes and Searching

The dates given in history notes are intended to help users in the preparation of search strategies, but rigid interpretation of these dates should be avoided because of the NLM practice of "Backfile leveling". At the end of each year, the bibliographic citation files associated with MEDLINE are re-apportioned to move older literature that may have been indexed in the current year into its appropriate Backfile according to the date of its publication. Therefore, a citation in a Backfile may have a MeSH heading whose entry into MeSH postdates that Backfile. Ongoing maintenance and correction activities may also cause MeSH headings to be added to citations that were published and indexed prior to the date that the MeSH heading was added to the system. Be aware that a MeSH heading may have citations in an older ELHILL MEDLINE backfile but that this may not represent comprehensive retrieval. The History Note (HN) will help guide you in preparing online search strategies.

When History Notes are Used

In addition to date information, the history note traces changes in form, status, and mapping for MeSH headings, as well as changes in status and referred-to MeSH headings for entry terms. History Notes are used with MeSH headings to trace the following types of changes:

When a MeSH heading existed previously as: an entry term; a "see" cross-reference; provisional heading; or a "see under" cross-reference, then under the new form of History Note, the wording will be "use" rather than "see."

When a MeSH heading had an entry term that existed previously as a descriptor itself or that referred to a different MeSH heading in a "see" or "see under" cross-reference, then under the new form of History Note, these will be denoted by "use."

When History Notes are Not Used

Previously, History Notes were not used when the differences between the new form of the MeSH heading and the old one involved only hyphens, commas, apostrophes, or upper/lower case distinctions. To this list, the following situations have been added: spelled differently, inverted, formerly singular, and formerly plural. In all these cases, there will rarely be a history note under the current MeSH heading for the old form of heading.

Online Notes to be Eliminated

When the History Note had implications for the online searcher, it was usually followed by an online note. Although dates in the History Note go back to 1963, dates in the online note go back only to 1966, the beginning of the searchable bibliographic file at NLM prior to the addition of OLDMEDLINE, which now goes back to 1964. Most online notes are still present, but they will go away with the 1999 MeSH. Under the new form of notes, there will rarely be the need for an online note and the history note will contain the instructions for online users.

Beginning in 1996, online notes were no longer provided when the replaced MeSH heading is maintained as a “see” cross-reference to the new MeSH heading since the MEDLARS searcher using the old MeSH heading will retrieve the same citations.

Look at these two examples:

	1998 MeSH                                           

Ambulatory Surgical Procedures                    


  outpatient surg performed in MD's office,         

  surgicenter or hosp



  see related                                       


  X   Ambulatory Surgery                            

  X   Day Surgery                                  

  X   Office Surgery                                

  X   Outpatient Surgery                            

  X   Surgery, Office                               

  X   Surgery, Outpatient

	1997 MeSH

Ambulatory Surgery


  outpatient surg performed in MD's office, surgicenter or hosp


  see related


  X   Day Surgery

  X   Office Surgery

  X   Outpatient Surgery

  X   Surgery, Office

  X   Surgery, Outpatient

Notice that the new History Note for the new form of the heading succinctly informs the searcher that this form came into being with 1998 MeSH but the concept can be searched online back through 1980 using this new form of the heading. No online note along the lines of "use AMBULATORY SURGICAL PROCEDURES to search AMBULATORY SURGERY 1980-97" is needed.

	1998 MeSH                                          



  in taxonomy, one of the 3 domains of life           

  along with BACTERIA & Eucarya                        

  98(81); ARCHAEA was see ARCHAEOBACTERIA 1995-97     

  X   Archaebacteria                                  

  X   Archaeobacteria                                 

  XR  Microbiology

	1997 MeSH



  a kingdom of bacteria; DF; ARCHAEOBACT

  92; was ARCHAEBACTERIA 1981-91 (see under BACTERIA


  X   Archaea

  X   Archaebacteria

Notice here a much simpler presentation of the History Note (HN) that tells a searcher the bottom line for retrieval - at a glance, the searcher knows this new form of the heading retrieves back to 1981. There is no bothering with the fact that the concept had two other forms because that's not relevant to online retrieval. The previous forms of the MeSH heading are pertinent to the user of the printed Index Medicus and this necessary information is contained in the Public MeSH Note (PM) in the "Black & White" MeSH included with the printed Index Medicus. An example of of a Public MeSH Note from the 1998 Black & White is as follows:

	1998 "Black & White" MeSH



   in taxonomy, one of the 3 domains of life along with BACTERIA & Eucarya

   98; see ARCHEOBACTERIA 1992-97, see 


   1981-90; ARCHAEA was see 


--prepared by Jacque-Lynne Schulman
MeSH Section
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Last updated: 21 August 2012