Best Response Yet to ‘Google as a Diagnostic Tool’

Reinhard Wentz says he performed the same searches that were performed in Google for the study, but he performed them in PubMed, and got a 88% success rate (compared to 58% using Google).

I should mention that the searches on PubMed for this ad-hoc comparison were done without using MeSH terms, subheadings, or Boolean operators. No ‘nesting’ of concepts or use of double quotes was required. This is all done ‘in the background’ by PubMed’s very intelligent search and mapping algorithms, provided a succinct search formulation is entered.

In posts to MEDLIB-L and LIS-Medical, Wentz also adds something I had thought but refrained from articulating. It’s just as well- I couldn’t have expressed the sentiment as nicely as Wentz did:

I was astonished to see that in some contributions to medical librarians’ discussion lists it was suggested (among other criticisms) that Tang and Ng’s results are no better than ‘flipping a coin’. Surely, during a case presentation or when ‘conducting a diagnostic exercise’ more than two possible diagnoses are discussed. A success rate of 58% on Google is impressive and better than just flipping a coin. The point is that PubMed can do even better (and faster)!

Wentz is my new hero.

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