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NLM Technical Bulletin

NLM Technical Bulletin 1998 Sep-Oct; 304

In This Issue:

Technical Notes - e1

Year-End Processing - e2

dotYear-End Processing of Stored Searches, Changes to Automatic SDIs and Saved Searches - ELHILL MEDLARS System - e3

Farewell to Gratefully Yours - e4

The Year-2000 Solution for ELHILL and the MEDLARS Databases - e5

MeSH Coming Attractions - e6

AVLINE® and CATLINE® Data to be Removed from Other NLM Databases [corrected 1999/02/09] - e7

MeSH on the Web - e8


List of MeSH Heading Pre-explosions

List of Subheading Pre-explosions

MEDLINE - 1999 Weekly Update Schedule on ELHILL

AIDSLINE - 1999 Weekly Update Schedule on ELHILL

HealthSTAR - 1999 Weekly Update Schedule on ELHILL

NLM Databases - 1999 Monthly Update Schedule on ELHILL

1999 NLM Pricing Algorithm Chart - [This link was removed because it is no longer valid.]

MEDLARS Pricing Schedule

Current Issue


Back Issues


Year-End Processing of Stored Searches, Changes to Automatic SDIs and Saved Searches - ELHILL MEDLARS System

Each year in the fall, changes are made to records in MEDLINE, its Backfiles, and other MEDLARS databases. This work, called "Year-End Processing," includes annual changes to Medical Subject Headings (MeSH). While the work goes largely unnoticed as it proceeds, there are important dates for searchers that are associated with this Year-End Processing. Particularly CRITICAL this year is the discontinuation of Automatic SDI current awareness searches for all files except SDILINE.

Automatic SDI Searches
In December 1998, NLM will cease running stored searches for the Automatic SDI program for all files EXCEPT SDILINE. NLM will not process users' stored searches for ftp or send printouts automatically through the mail after the dates outlined below:

Automatic SDI processing by NLM CEASES after this update:
AIDSLINE9901 (EM)January 2
BIOETHICSLINE9812 (EM)December 5
CANCERLIT9811 (EM)November 7
HealthSTAR9901 (EM)January 2
POPLINE9812 (EM)December 5
TOXLINE9812 (EM)December 21

NLM will continue to provide the ELHILL functions that allow searchers to revise their stored search strategies for SDILINE. Searchers may run their own stored searches against the various ELHILL file updates as they occur and generate ftp output, or offline prints which they can then mail to patrons. Users can check the 1999 update schedules included in this issue. The only exception to this is CANCERLIT, which is being removed from ELHILL on December 14, 1998, as previously announced in the July-August 1998 NLM Technical Bulletin. CANCERLIT is available free via the Web at

Until ELHILL is discontinued or until there is a current awareness feature available in PubMed (currently expected in the spring of 1999), NLM will continue to run SDILINE Automatic SDI searches and create the ftp sets or mail the printouts. No new stored searches can be created (see the Technical Note, NLM Automatic SDI Service Moratorium, in the September-October 1997 NLM Technical Bulletin).

Command language ELHILL searchers who want to continue running stored searches against database updates other than SDILINE should revise current stored searches for the 1999 MeSH changes. In fact, all stored searches (Automatic SDIs or not) and saved searches for the ELHILL databases should be reviewed by searchers for the impact of any changed and new 1999 MeSH headings (MH). The 1999 MeSH in ASCII format, 1999 New Headings with Scope Notes, and 1999 Replaced Headings can be downloaded from

Searchers are encouraged to make the transition to PubMed and Internet Grateful Med as soon as possible. Training classes, at both the introductory, basic level, or "transitions" classes for trained ELHILL searchers who want to learn IGM's form screen, or PubMed's command language searching are offered across the country by the National Online Training Center. Class descriptions and schedule can be accessed at: All NLM databases are now accessible free via the World-Wide Web (either through PubMed; Internet Grateful Med; TOXNET on the Web; or in the case of CANCERLIT and PDQ, via NCI's CancerNet Web site).

1999 MeSH
The 1999 MEDLINE, SDILINE, and AIDSLINE files will be available online with 1999 MeSH and updated with 9901 Entry Month (EM) data on Monday, December 14, 1998. HealthSTAR is expected to be updated with 1999 MeSH on January 3, 1999. CANCERLIT will have been discontinued from ELHILL in December 1998, and will only then be available from NCI's CancerNet Web site Other files using the MeSH vocabulary including AIDSTRIALS, BIOETHICSLINE, HISTLINE, HSRPROJ, POPLINE, SPACELINE, and TOXLINE will be maintained with the 1999 MeSH at later dates. Watch the MEDLARS online NEWS and future issues of the NLM Technical Bulletin for announcements.

Changes to the MeSH vocabulary for 1999 may be found in the introduction to the Medical Subject Headings, Annotated Alphabetic List, 1999 and online in FILE NEW on ELHILL (search 990101 (DX) for the new terms). The 1999 MeSH in ASCII format, 1999 New Headings with Scope Notes, and 1999 Replaced Headings can be downloaded from Please note that this file is not in the printed Annotated MeSH format; however, it does contain MeSH descriptors, qualifiers (subheadings), and Supplementary Chemical Records.

The Medical Subject Headings, Annotated Alphabetic List, 1999 is also available in print from the National Technical Information Service (NTIS). NTIS ordering information is available at [Link no longer available as of June 4, 2018.]

Special Dates for SDILINE Automatic SDI Participants
SDILINE Automatic SDI stored searches requiring revision must be deleted using the ELHILL PURGESEARCH command (see step_6) and restored by December 3, 1998, in order to receive correct retrieval against 1999 monthly updates. The January 9901 (EM) SDILINE Automatic SDIs will be processed beginning on or about December 5, 1998. Searchers should execute their STORESEARCHes online to examine retrieval between November 16 and December 3, 1998. During this brief time, citations in the December 1998 SDILINE file will contain 1999 MeSH changed terms. It is during this period of time that searchers can run their STORESEARCHes against the revised SDILINE to check correct operation of stored strategies against the new vocabulary. Only SDILINE will have 1999 vocabulary terms on citations during this time period; MEDLINE and other databases will not.

To check correct operation of stored searches during this designated period, searchers should:

  1. Between October 26 - November 13, record the number of postings retrieved for each SDILINE stored search as processed automatically by NLM for the December 1998 SDILINE (i.e., 9812 (EM), which is scheduled to be run October 24) with the 1998 vocabulary. The number of citations retrieved is listed on the front of each SDI search printout. The name of the stored search is the title of the printout.

  2. Between November 16 - December 3, go online and run each SDILINE stored search online against the SDILINE file. Stored searches may be executed online by connecting to SDILINE and typing the stored search name qualified by (SN). The December SDILINE will contain the same citations, and the 1999 MeSH vocabulary. However, the citations are not re-indexed with the new 1999 MeSH terms; only MeSH heading changes will appear in this file; new MeSH headings will not retrieve any citations in December SDILINE.

  3. Compare the number of postings recorded in Step 1 with those retrieved in Step 2. If the number of postings (i.e., records) retrieved is not equal to the number received in the December 1998 SDILINE (9812 (EM)) printouts that used 1998 vocabulary, searchers may assume the stored search has been affected by a 1999 MeSH vocabulary change.

  4. If the search has been affected by a 1999 MeSH vocabulary change, searchers should display the strategy by using the command DISPLAY followed by the stored search name. Do not use the (SN) qualifier. For example: display s601 heart disease.

  5. Check the terms in the strategy against the list of new and replaced MeSH headings. On the list titled "Replaced Medical Subject Headings with Their Replacements," terms designated as P (Print Entry Term) or N (Non-Print Entry Term) may still be used as search terms and remain in any stored or saved search. Also, check that terms are mapping to the correct concept; sometimes cross references are pointed to a different MeSH heading for the new year. Terms designated as C (Supplementary Chemical Term) may remain but must be qualified with (NM). Terms with no status indicator may not be used as MeSH terms, and must be changed to Text Words.

    If a search contains MeSH Tree numbers, the numbers should be checked in the 1999 Medical Subject Headings. CAS Registry Numbers and Names of Substances (NM) should be checked in the online NEW MESH database (type FILE NEW). If the strategies are not too long, searchers may want to enter them online line-by-line and evaluate any No Postings messages to isolate any problem areas. Remember that only one month's data is being searched, so some stored searches may not retrieve any citations. Also, brand new 1999 MeSH headings - those for new concepts - will retrieve no postings because the records were indexed using 1998 MeSH. (Changed headings and entry terms may retrieve postings, however, because they are mapped to new or previous headings).

  6. Purge searches requiring changes using the ELHILL PURGESEARCH command. (For example, PURGESEARCH s601 heart disease).

  7. Then store the revised strategy (STORESEARCH) the following day. Type EXPLAIN STORESEARCH for detailed instructions for storing a search. It is possible to purge and store a search on the same day if the name of the new search is different. Varying the name by one character from the old name is sufficient to make the new name unique.

All revised SDILINE search strategies for 9901 (EM) Automatic SDILINE processing should be stored by December 3, 1998.

Special Dates
Automatic SDI services for other files will be discontinued. These files include: AIDSLINE, BIOETHICSLINE, CANCERLIT, HealthSTAR, POPLINE, and TOXLINE. These files do not have an equivalent of SDILINE; therefore it is not possible to follow the exact procedures described above for the SDILINE database. Searchers should carefully review any strategies that were previously stored for execution by NLM against these databases for possible vocabulary revisions and restore them by the dates listed for the updates of these files.

Searchers may run current awareness searches for these databases. Enter the appropriate file and execute the search by typing the name of the search followed by SN in parentheses, and be sure to AND the appropriate entry month, e.g.,
file toxline

You are now connected . . .

t250 liver (sn) and 9901(em)

You may then use $DSFILE to ftp the resulting file or PRINT OFFLINE command. Use the STORESEARCH command to store search strategies and the PURGESEARCH command to remove them. Remember to allow one night for storage or removal.

AIDSLINE 9901 (EM) Automatic SDIs will run one last time on or after January 3, 1999 after the HealthSTAR data are added. Please note that AIDSLINE Automatic SDIs will lack the CANCERLIT subfile, ICDB, and BIOETHICSLINE data. Remember you'll have to run them routinely yourself and either ftp the output to yourself or create offline prints. Also, remember that CATLINE and AVLINE data will be available in the Integrated Library System OPAC in early 1999.

CANCERLIT is discontinued from the NLM ELHILL system for 1999. You may want to experiment with searches of CANCERLIT on the NCI CancerNet system

CATLINE and AVLINE Automatic SDI service was discontinued some time ago. The NLM Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC) will contain NLM cataloging data for monographs and serials in the future.

HealthSTAR is expected to be available with 1999 MeSH and the 9901 (EM) update on or after January 2, 1999. Changes for 9901 (EM) current awareness searches which you plan to run against HealthSTAR should be made by that date.

POPLINE SDIs should not be changed yet. Please see future issues of the NLM Technical Bulletin and the online NEWS for announcements about POPLINE and the 1999 vocabulary.

TOXLINE contains MeSH vocabulary in the TOXBIB and BIOSIS subfiles. Stored search strategies for TOXLINE that contain MeSH headings should also be reviewed for 1999 MeSH vocabulary changes. Any changes to these strategies should be reviewed and restored by December 21, 1998. Beginning with the 9812 (EM) TOXLINE update in December, records added to both the TOXBIB and the BIOSIS subfiles will contain 1999 MeSH. 1998 MeSH terms will remain on TOXBIB and BIOSIS records from earlier entry months until the entire TOXLINE file is regenerated in early to mid-1999. Watch the online ELHILL news and the NLM Technical Bulletin for the date of the regeneration.

Canceling SDI Service
To cancel your SDI service contact us at:


Please include your User ID code in your correspondence.

In order to free computer space here at NLM, users should purge all stored searches using the PURGESEARCH command. At any USER: prompt type purgesearch and the name of the stored search. For example: purgesearch s601 heart disease. You must use the exact name of the stored search or your search will not be deleted. If you are unsure of the names of your stored searches please contact us by any of the above methods and we can send you a list of your stored searches.

--prepared by Carolyn Tilley
MEDLARS Management Section

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