Nov 10

[UPDATED] Another Question about ‘Clinical Reader’ …and the NEJM

[UPDATE: 11/12/2009]

Got a call from Tom Richardson at the NEJM (who I saw play with the Bearded Pigs at MLA 2008!).

According to Tom, NEJM has no arrangement with Clinical Reader and did not license their content to Clinical Reader. So it appears that Clinical Reader is again violating copyright.


So, Clinical Reader shows video content from the NEJM, including a video on chest tube insertion (yeah, the same one I blogged about a ways back).

I thought this was odd.

After all, if you go to the NEJM’s home for this video, it clearly says one needs a subscription to view the content.


So I decided to look around for any notes from either organization that would indicate Clinical Reader is using this video content with permission. Didn’t find it. Also didn’t find any published terms under which NEJM offered to license it.

My curiosity piqued, I decided to poke around more to see if anyone else was showing NEJMs content. Sure enough, somebody with a subscription to NEJM downloaded a decent copy and posted it on Vimeo:

It has been viewed there over 1,600 times.

Note to Vimeo: This violates terms of service. The user who uploaded it did not own it (as should be fairly obvious by the title cards). As much as I enjoy free access to high quality video, this belongs to NEJM, not this user. The video should at least be taken down from your servers.

Anyway, Vimeo allows users to download videos in .flv format. I downloaded that .flv with no problem…so now Vimeo is serving as a distribution channel for others who would like unlicensed copies. I wonder if perhaps that is how Clinical Reader got a copy to show from their site.

I’d be interested to hear from the NEJM and Clinical Reader: Was this content licensed to Clinical Reader? If so, why is the video quality so much poorer than in the original at the NEJM’s site OR the Vimeo copy?

If not, why isn’t the NEJM interested that their content is being stolen?

I mean…if I didn’t sweat pesky things like copyright, I think I could build an AMAZING portal for health information…made of other people’s content.

Clinical Reader’s FAQ says:

Clinical Reader respects all copyrights and legal restrictions on content and access. Clinical Reader cannot give a user access to articles to which the user does not already have access to copyright-restricted content. For example, if a user does not have access to a research article in the BMJ (either through an individual subscription or through the user´s institution), Clinical Reader will not be able to show the item in full.

Huh. I don’t have access to NEJM from here at home. But I can still view its content in Clinical Reader.

Veoh is showing this video, too.


…and there’s a RapidShare link on this blog.

Sep 07

Lin On PubGet and 3rd Party PubMed Tools

Since I don’t have the option of implementing PubGet (previously mentioned) at my place of work, getting to read about the experiences that others have had with it is a treat.

Over at Up to the Waves, Lin shares her observations.

Lin also writes, however:

Pubget is only one of the 3rd party life science search engines that tries to create shortcut to search PubMed. If you are a serious researcher, my advise is using the 3rd party search engines with caution or as a pre-search. Getting comfortable and familiar using PubMed itself is your goal. If you need assistance using PubMed, contact your medical librarians.

I can’t wholly agree with this. Not all 3rd-Party PubMed/Medline tools are meant to replace PubMed, and some can simply do things that PubMed itself cannot. If you are a serious researcher, my advice is to make yourself aware of all the tools at your disposal, and use the best ones for the purpose at hand.

Jul 29

“Article of the Future”

Cell Press and Elsevier have launched a project called Article of the Future [link] that is an ongoing collaboration with the scientific community to redefine how the scientific article is presented online. The project’s goal is to take full advantage of online capabilities, allowing readers individualized entry points and routes through the content, while using the latest advances in visualization techniques. We have developed prototypes for two articles from Cell to demonstrate initial concepts and get feedback from the scientific community.

Craig Stoltz may be more impressed with these than I am, but he asks an interesting question:


Anyone? Bueller?

May 29

The “Natural Unit” of Health Information

In Everything is Miscellaneous, David Weinberger writes:

Bundling songs into long-playing albums lowered the production, marketing, and distribution costs because there were fewer records to make, ship, shelve, categorize, alphabetize, and inventory. As soon as music went digital, we learned that the natural unit of music is the track.

This leaves me thinking: What’s the “natural unit” of health information? Is the article to an issue of a journal what a track is to an LP record? After all, clinicians never come to our library seeking an issue– they come in search of an article.

This leads me back to thinking about Marcus Banks’ idea of using a blog as a journal. If digital distribution eliminates the need to reduce costs by bundling mostly-unrelated articles together once a month, why bundle articles into “issues” for a digital journal? Why not release them online whenever their editorial processes are complete and they’re ready to be “published?”

I was fortunate to finally meet Marcus last week at MLA 2008. We got together along with Melissa Rethlefsen and Rachel Walden to talk about what the future of the journal might look like and agreed, I think, that we have more questions than answers.

Left to right: Marcus Banks, Rachel Walden, David Rothman. Photo by Melissa Rethlefsen and her cool new Blackberry

Feb 12

Troubled Tuesday (Reactions to Marcus Monday)

Dean Giustini likes Marcus’ idea about replacing LIS journals with blogs (see yesterday’s post), but also has concerns:

…my only reservation is when research methods are used such as randomization and the articles would need to go through peer-review.

T. Scott (former editor of the JMLA and one of my favorite contrarians) explains some of his reservations about the idea:

I’m not one who is terribly impressed by the “wisdom of crowds” (a concept that seems to be especially dubious during the US election season). I’ve rarely seen anything approaching substantive discussion and analysis take place in a comment thread, and the longer the thread, the more worthless it typically is. Rather than providing vibrant post-publication review, I’m afraid that posting unedited articles for comment would result in much good work being buried and ignored.


Marcus is pushing the right questions, and everyone involved in scholarly publishing, at whatever level, should be thinking creatively about how to make the communication and discussion of projects and ideas more effective.

I’ve noticed my neck often aches after reading T. Scott’s blog. After some investigation, I’ve finally figured out that this is because I can’t seem to stop nodding my head while I read him.

I especially like this last bit of his post:

But it isn’t a matter of journals vs blogs. The most effective modes of communication that we develop over the next decade will adopt features that we associate with each, but will be fundamentally different from either.

I couldn’t agree more. I don’t think that blogs or wikis are going to revolutionize medicine, education, or publishing- but some applications of their descendent technologies might.

Since LIS News and LibraryStuff both posted about it, I’m betting there’ll be more interesting opinions to enjoy soon.

Jan 25

My Resource Review of BioWizard (JMLA)

Big day for me. My Electronic Resources Review of BioWizard was published in the JMLA.

David L. Rothman
J Med Libr Assoc. 2008 January; 96(1): 74. doi: 10.3163/1536-5050.96.1.74.
| Full Text | PDF–988K

Of course, I just realized that BioWizard has significantly changed its interface since I wrote the review. Dangit.

Nov 26

Subscribe to the JAMA Report via RSS

I knew that the The JAMA Report, “a weekly video and audio medical news service from the Journal of the American Medical Association,” was available from its home page at, but The MARquee points out that JAMA also posts episodes to at Even better, you can subscribe to these videos as an RSS feed.

If you want, you can even embed’s player in your Web site and let your library’s patrons watch these videos from the comfort of your library’s own intranet presence. Easy instructions on how to do this are here.

Edit: Sorry! I failed at first to link the post at The MARquee! This has been remedied above.

Nov 26

BioMed Central on YouTube

BioMed Central announced on Friday that they’ve launched a YouTube Channel.

In addition to our YouTube channel, we are working with SciVee to ensure the visibility and linking of PubCasts featuring BioMed Central articles. For example, SciVee currently features a pubcast by Apostol Gramada in which he describes the research he published in BMC Bioinformatics.

Berci seems pretty excited about the prospect of more publishers doing the same, but I find myself wondering how much money and time publishers (or writers/editors) are going to invest in producing video content to compliment or promote their written works.

Should be interesting to keep an eye on, regardless.

Fun Little Hack:
If you’d like to subscribe to new videos that are posted in this channel without having to log into YouTube, you can subscribe to this RSS feed.

Nov 08

The JEAHIL says I’m indefatigable: I’m too tired to argue

I’m not ashamed to admit that I get a kick out of seeing my name or work in published books or journals.

But the most recent issue of the Journal of the European Association for Health Information and Libraries (2007, Vol 3, Issue 4) caught me by surprise. Oliver Obst’s “Web 2.0” column, Notes from the Blogosphere (Page 60-61) included the following:

David Rothman is one of the most indefatigable bloggers around, and as a result his blog: – Exploring Medical Librarianship and Web Geekery is the only one which is ranked in the top 10 healthcare blogs worldwide.(12) Congratulations! However, David recently suffered a spontaneous pneumothorax(13) and had to slow down blogging for some time. Now – back again at his job – he felt seriously pooped.(14) Nevertheless, his personal experience taught us much about thoracic surgery and NEJM videos on chest-tube insertion(15) as well as the benefits of the generous use of anaesthesia and conscious sedation.

Oliver is very kind and I’m grateful for the chuckle.

…Now I just need to find a way to work the word “indefatigable” into my résumé…

Nov 07

Awesome Dean Giustini quote in University Affairs

Dean Giustini just keeps making his profession look good from the outside, doesn’t he?

University Affairs (“Canada’s magazine on higher education”) features an article on The New Librarians in which Dean is mentioned and quoted.

University of British Columbia’s libraries have also seen dramatic changes. When biomedical branch librarian Dean Giustini joined the UBC library staff 10 years ago, the biomedical library offered just three electronic journals. It now offers 40,000. Mr. Giustini, named Canadian Hospital Librarian of the Year for 2007, is a well-read and popular blogger. He maintains the Google Scholar Blog (with the stated purpose “to observe, document and comment on the evolution of academic-scholarly searching”) and is the blogger for Open Medicine, a peer-reviewed, open-access online journal that aims to provide high-quality health information. In 2005, he kicked off a lengthy debate among experts with a British Medical Journal editorial entitled “How Google is changing medicine.”

Mr. Giustini doesn’t believe that the librarian’s role is diminished by today’s ready availability of information. “I think our role will be helping people to teach each other how to find information, but also how to critically evaluate information,” he says. “People need to see us as knowledgeable about knowledge, in all its forms.”

…and later in the article:

Tim Mark, executive director of the Canadian Association of Research Libraries, says that some older, more traditional academic librarians have found the new technology a bit daunting, and the new approach to library space, challenging. This has sometimes led to generational tensions, ones which Dean Giustini at UBC says he has felt first-hand.

“Some people just don’t get it,” says Mr. Giustini bluntly. “But I’ve got tenure, and I’m going to continue to push the envelope as much as I can. … Librarians need to be seen to be part of this revolution. And if you don’t want to stay in the profession because of it, there are lots of young, fresh, smart librarians who will take your place.”

Let’s just repeat that last part in bold:

“…Librarians need to be seen to be part of this revolution. And if you don’t want to stay in the profession because of it, there are lots of young, fresh, smart librarians who will take your place.”

Sep 28

BMJ on Physician Bloggers

Who are the doctor bloggers and what do they want?
Coombes BMJ.2007; 335: 644-645

[Abstract] [Full Text]

Medical blogs are sometimes seen as just rants about the state of health care, but they have also been credited with spreading public understanding of science and rooting out modern day quacks. Rebecca Coombes checks out the medical blogosphere

Lacking full-text access to this journal, I haven’t read the article. I would welcome the chance to read it if someone would like to send it my way. 😉


Sep 27

NEJM’s “Perspective Forum”

Having already had some success with it’s “Clinical Decisions” experiment (see this post and this post), NEJM has launched another interactive feature called “Perspective Forum.”

The feature establishes a topic of discussion and provides a form in which readers can post their comments.

My initial reaction is a resounding “Meh.” Wouldn’t it be preferable to have a threaded record of the discussion so that readers can interact with each other?

Sep 10

A Medical Publisher’s Unusual Prescription: Online Ads

New York Times article:

“…Reed Elsevier, which publishes more than 400 medical and scientific journals, is trying an experiment that stands this model on its head. Over the weekend it introduced a Web portal,, that gives doctors free access to the latest articles from 100 of its own pricey medical journals and that plans to sell advertisements against the content.

The new site asks oncologists to register their personal information. In exchange, it gives them immediate access to the latest cancer-related articles from Elsevier journals like The Lancet and Surgical Oncology. Prices for journals can run from hundreds to thousands of dollars a year.”

Read the rest here.


Aug 02

Free access to SAGE Journals

Nicole Engard points out that SAGE Journals Online is offering free trial access to the following journals through the end of September 2007:

  • IFLA Journal
  • Journal of Librarianship and Information Science
  • Journal of Information Science
  • Business Information Review
  • Information Development
  • Journal Of Health Informatics

You can register here.

Jun 25

More on NEJM’s “Clinical Decisions” Feature

The New England Journal of Medicine’s new social feature, Clinical Decisions, has closed its call for feedback and posted the results.

You can also view the results by country with this interactive map.

White coat Notes (a Boston Globe blog) notes that Journal voters stray from the evidence.

Readers were given three choices to vote on. When the 6,085 votes from 113 countries were counted, two of the three choices were almost a tie, with only eight votes separating them. But the winner, with 37.5 percent of the votes, was not the choice consistent with what the two studies concluded…

Jun 18

Librarian (Server Side PDF Organizer)

Where Papers, iPapers, Sente and BibDesk are personal PDF managers, Librarian is a server-side application to allow groups of people to collectively build an annotate a shared PDF library that is managed from inside their Web browsers.

Librarian was designed to enable a small trusted group of researchers to create an annotated virtual library of articles in portable document format (PDF). All users may participate in the creation of the virtual library, and all users may then browse and search articles by words or phrases, much like at journal sites. The difference is that you have instant access to full text of the article, which you identified in seconds.

Metadata about each article is imported from PubMed and users can annotate articles. To get a better idea of how it works, check out the demo.

If this might be useful to you, check out the requirements, note the fact that it is free, open-source software (GPL) and give it a try.

If you try it, please be sure to let me know what you think– I may install this myself, if only because it looks neat and I’d love to start a little article-sharing database with a few friends.

May 17

New NEJM Interactive Feature: “Clinical Decisions”

From The Boston Globe:

For the first time, physicians will be asked to weigh in on what they would do for a patient, based on research papers published in the current issue and what they read about a fictitious case. Their choices will be tallied online for four weeks and their comments posted in an experiment to better connect with readers, editor-in-chief Dr. Jeffrey M. Drazen (left) said in an interview.


First up in the Journal is the case of a 30-year-old woman with mild persistent asthma who wonders if she should change her medications. The vignette is followed by three choices and an essay to support each option. Readers can make their picks and explain why online.

Okay, that sounds like a good idea…subscribers feel engaged and let the NEJM (and their colleagues) know what they think. It results in a feature that is generated by user feedback. That’s fine, I guess- but is it really any different from when CNN or Fox News set a question and invite viewers to call in with their opinions?

This part in particular threw me:

“Evidence-based medicine is somewhat of an illusory thing,” he said. “Very few patients fit the inclusion criteria for a clinical trial. It’s like putting together a jigsaw puzzle when the pieces don’t quite fit.”

Poll results from clinicians may add another piece of information about how clinical decisions are made.

“We hope to learn from them as well as having them learn from us,” Drazen said.

Does this confuse anyone else? How would a non-scientific poll of self-selected participants aid EBP efforts?

It is entirely possible (read: likely) that I’m just missing something here, so please do feel free to leave a comment and school me.

[via Kevin, M.D.]

Mar 21

Managing Medical Literature on a Mac: iPapers, Papers, Sente, BibDesk

You might remember this post about an OS X application for managing PDFs using metadata from PubMed- the application is called iPapers.

Ars Technica recently reviewed an application for OS X with some awfully similar features called Papers
Click image for larger version

From the Papers site:

Introducing Papers…
Do you have dozens of PDF files from your favorite scientific articles scattered on your harddrive? Do you also try to desperately organize them by renaming and archiving them in folders? But like the piles of printed articles on your desk, you can’t keep up with all the new papers you download, and despite all your efforts it has become impossible to find that one article.

Finally that all belongs to the past. We’ve been there, trust us, we know. That’s why we wrote Papers, our latest application exclusively for the Mac. Papers will revolutionize the way you deal with scientific papers. Search for papers using PubMed, directly retrieve and archive PDFs, and read and study them all from within Papers, your personal library of Science.

From the Ars Technica article:

The comments on the Ars review include mention of BibDesk and Sente as potential alternatives. I love Sente’s marketing: “It’s like iTunes for academic literature.”