In a recent comment, Creaky (Kathleen Crea) made me aware of LigerCat, a 3rd-Party PubMed/MEDLINE tool that is new to me. I’m really enjoying working with it.Just a reminder that I don’t consider myself an expert searcher. I figure I’m basically competent, but sometimes need to get advice from more experienced searchers (right, Melissa?) for help on more challenging literature searches- so any tool that helps me do more (or miss less) is gold to me.

I’m sure that more experienced Medical Libraryfolk don’t have to do this, but as I start putting together a lit search, I often start by going to the MeSH Browser to begin working out what MeSH terms I might be working with. Alternately, I might go to Novo|Seek or GoPubMed with a few key words to get a frequency analysis of MeSH terms. In these examples, I’m doing some preliminary searching on Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis.

LigerCat isn’t necessarily *better* at this, but its presentation is simpler. Rather than putting the frequency analysis of MeSH terms in a left sidebar, it gives a cloud of MeSH terms:

Seeing the biggest, most obvious tag item in the cloud (see above) is delightful. If one clicks on the tags in the MeSH cloud, they’re added to the search. When you’re done adding terms, you can click “Go to PubMed” to run the search there.

In this example, the query run in PubMed is:
(“encephalomyelitis, acute disseminated”[MeSH Terms] OR (“encephalomyelitis”[All Fields] AND “acute”[All Fields] AND “disseminated”[All Fields]) OR “acute disseminated encephalomyelitis”[All Fields] OR (“acute”[All Fields] AND “disseminated”[All Fields] AND “encephalomyelitis”[All Fields])) AND (“Encephalomyelitis, Acute Disseminated”[mh] AND “Humans”[mh] AND “Treatment Outcome”[mh])

…and the results aren’t bad.

If I was caught up in Google Reader (I’m not, and haven’t been for about 15 months), I would have noticed Creaky’s post on LigerCat a couple of days ago. This reminds me to move Kathleen’s feed into my “High Priorities” folder. You may want to do the same.

2 thoughts on “LigerCat

  1. Thanks for the mention, David. I haven’t had the opportunity to really test-drive LigerCat as often as I search PubMed; however what appeals to me is their mining the system to create tag clouds.

    The term “data mining” means little to our users, but “tag clouds” they can really understand immediately, intuitively, visually. The more hits you’ve gotten the bigger the Tag. A 5-year old gets it.

    I’m planning on announcing LigerCat to my group in PBL this week, and ask them to try it out. It will be interesting to see what they think… especially in light of the fact that by now, these first year medical students will have noticed the big changes which took place in PubMed recently. (And the students have gotten a search-training session from the reference librarians in August when they first arrived at UCHC so are well-aware of the advantage of using medical subject headings to search PubMed).

    And as for going to MeSH first before beginning a literature search? That’s the best way to begin! And it’s always a treat to check the year-end “new Medical Subject Headings” list issued by National Library of Medicine – you can view the 2010 list of new descriptors at:

    For example, this year NLM added the term “information seeking behavior” as a MeSH heading. Hallelujah!