So, today I tried out Medie. I’d said I’d write about it as a third party Medline tool. I can’t. At least not as a hospital librarian. I was going to try to give it a pat on its back and insincerely flash it half a smile so it wouldn’t feel too badly about itself.
Instead, I’ll tell you what I really think of it. The first problem I noticed was that it doesn’t use MeSH (and therefore you can’t focus or use subheadings), so you’re losing massive precision right away. The other biggie I couldn’t get past was that it lists by PMID number, not title and author.
Sounds like I hate it, right? Not at all. Once I learned more about it and understood what it does, I was blown away.
This has changed my mind completely.
Let me take a step back for a moment. One of the first things I mention when I teach Medline is that you are using a computer. You can’t talk to it like you are asking me a question. You need to represent your concepts with words and terms and phrases and connect them appropriately. Then I launch into Boolean logic and MeSH.
Medie is a project of Tsujii Laboratory at the University of Tokyo that works on Natural Language Processing and Computational Linguistics. Basically, this means that it can root your word and process algorithms so that you search the database with natural language. If it doesn’t already, it will be “thinking” that when you type heart you may also like results with cardiac. That is too basic of an example, but hopefully you get the idea.
So, when you search Medie you enter search terms into basic parts of speech (subject, verb, object) and out pop your results, with the line or two of text it picked up color-coded by part of speech. It does have some additional search options that I can see as being very useful and helpful. But as I can’t recommend it for searching now, I’ll let you discover those on your own. I should note that I didn’t find any information on what text is searched or omitted, or how results are ranked.
But in the future I can see Hal saying: “I’m sorry, Dave I’m afraid I can do that.”