More notes on BioWizard (Digg for Medical Literature, Part 3.5)

I’ve been looking at BioWizard more. I still think it is a great idea executed well, but I’m seeing a couple of problems with its “tags”.

They’re not really tags

The first problem is that the word “tags” implies that the terms assigned to each article are a part of a user-created folksonomy, but this isn’t actually the case. If you look at the citation for PubMed ID 17146093, you’ll see it was indexed with these MeSH terms:

If you look at the article’s tags after it has been imported into BioWizard, you’ll see that these MeSH terms have become BioWizard tags:

So, calling these “tags” is a disservice both to people who know what MeSH terms are, and to users accustomed to participating in the creation of folksonomies with user-generated tags.

Missing MeSH terms

Rachel Walden noticed instances where articles that have been indexed in PubMed with MeSH terms, but those terms do not appear in BioWizard as tags. The best guess we came up with was that these articles were submitted to BioWizard by users when their citations were in-process.

Suggestions for the good folks at BioWizard

  • Replace the word “tags” in each article with “MeSH” or “MeSH terms”. Researchers in the biological sciences (BioWizard’s target user base) know what MeSH terms are.
  • If the “tags” are to useful in describing aggregate features of the articles tracked in BioWizard, all articles should have them. BioWizard could considering disallowing the submission of articles where citation is in-process, but perhaps it’d be better to set all articles to update themselves with metadata from PubMed.
  • Although I like that clicking on a “tag” brings up a list of articles also in BioWizard that were indexed with the same MeSH term, it’d be great to have a link to all the articles in PubMed indexed with the same MeSH term

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