Aug 26

The AMA Has an e-book Strategy

[Press Release]

“In addition, because medical knowledge advances at a more rapid pace than the regular print publishing cycles, iPublishCentral gives us the ability to provide more frequent text updates to our most popular books without the added expenses of a new print run.”

For instance, the e-book version of Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, sixth edition, contains clarifications and corrections that were not defined until after the book published. The AMA has recently reprinted the book and is using this opportunity to introduce its existing customer base to the electronic version. Direct purchasers can currently receive a two-year subscription to the downloadable e-book as a replacement offer for the reprinted publication. iPublishCentral allows a migration path to a planned suite of e-products that will be available on Impelsys’ iPlatform in the future.

Looking forward to hearing about the e-book strategies of other professional associations.

Aug 18

Awesome MedLib Blog: PubMed Search Strategies

This kind of blog is sooooo useful to searchers like me who are clearly less experienced and expert than the author of PubMed Search Strategies, Cindy Schmidt, M.D., M.L.S.

“This blog has been created to share PubMed search strategies. Search strategies posted here are not perfect. They are posted in the hope that others will benefit from the work already put into their creation and/or will offer suggestions for improvements. Librarians who wish to post comments on this blog or who wish to become authors are invited to e-mail me.”

Example post shown below:


[via: Melissa Rethlefsen and Mark Rabnett]

Aug 13


This blog has looked at Clinical Trial search tools previously. Some highlights included:

Also useful for non-clinician is the MedlinePlus page on clinical trials.

Trial-X does a couple of things differently.

First is that it seems Trial-X can gather your demographic information and diagnosis from your Google Health account or your Microsoft HealthVault account and apply it to your clinical trial search.

Second is that the search criteria one can apply is far more detailed than in any of the other search tools I’ve seen.

Then it maps your information on a grid to see if you’re a good match for the trials known to the system:

And if there’s no good match? Trial-X will email you if it finds one.

I’ve only given it a quick once-over, but it looks pretty neat. Anyone else tried it? Any insights?

Aug 10


PubMed-EX is a really interesting Firefox Add-on or Greasemonkey Script.

PubMed-EX is a browser extension that marks up PubMed search results with additional information retrieved from IISR & IASL text-mining services. PubMed-EX’s page mark-up includes section categorization, gene/disease name, and relation.

The mark-ups of PubMed-EX can help researchers quickly focus on key information in retrieved abstracts and can provide additional background information on key terms. Furthermore, our text-mining server carries out all text-mining processing, freeing up users’ resources.


Try this- it’s way cool.


Aug 05

Quertle®: More Semantic MEDLINE Search


What New Users Should Know
(How is Quertle® different?)

1. Find true relationships, not simple co-occurrences
On Quertle, if you search for two or more terms, you will find documents in which those terms occur in a conceptual relationship, not simply scattered within the same document. You won’t always find as many, but you weren’t really going to read 14,578 documents, were you?

2. Quertle understands biology and chemistry
Quertle understands the difference between “TWIST”, the helix-loop-helix transcription factor, and “twist”, the verb. So, use proper capitalization in your query, and you won’t be lost in a sea of irrelevant results.

3. Power Terms™ enable you to query for categories of objects
Use Power Terms™ to query for categories of objects, such as any protein or chemical (not simply the occurrence of the terms). See the Power Terms™ link under the query box for further instructions and the list of currently-supported Power Terms™. Use them; we’ll know what they mean. Want other Power Terms™? Let us know.

4. Useful help
Throughout the site, mouse over the (?) to see helpful hints. To answer many of your other questions, such as why there appear to be duplicate results, please read the Help and FAQ documents (links at the bottom of the page).

Things to look for on the Results page (check the (?) hints on that page):
a. More relevant results
b. Easy filtering and breadcrumb tracking
c. Key concepts automatically identified for you, including members of any Power Term™ categories used in your query

I definitely like the highlighting of search terms and the terms Quertle sees as synonymous:

I like the refinement tools to the right of search results:

It bothers me a bit that Quertle doesn’t actually identify who created or maintains it:

Who is behind Quertle?
Quertle has been created by biomedical scientists, chemists, and linguistic experts, who have many decades of experience with research and finding relevant information to support that research.

Since Quertle is essentially doing keyword searches, its power would be significantly improved if it supported Boolean operators.

Librarians, be sure to check out the Power Terms™. Currently-supported terms are listed here– what others would you like to see?

For more, see Quertle’s Help page.

Aug 04

Facebook and the Green-Eyed Monster of Jealousy (WGiRL – 8/4/2009)


Cyberpsychol Behav. 2009 Aug;12(4):441-4.
More information than you ever wanted: does Facebook bring out the green-eyed monster of jealousy?
Muise A, Christofides E, Desmarais S.

Department of Psychology, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada.

The social network site Facebook is a rapidly expanding phenomenon that is changing the nature of social relationships. Anecdotal evidence, including information described in the popular media, suggests that Facebook may be responsible for creating jealousy and suspicion in romantic relationships. The objectives of the present study were to explore the role of Facebook in the experience of jealousy and to determine if increased Facebook exposure predicts jealousy above and beyond personal and relationship factors. Three hundred eight undergraduate students completed an online survey that assessed demographic and personality factors and explored respondents’ Facebook use. A hierarchical multiple regression analysis, controlling for individual, personality, and relationship factors, revealed that increased Facebook use significantly predicts Facebook-related jealousy. We argue that this effect may be the result of a feedback loop whereby using Facebook exposes people to often ambiguous information about their partner that they may not otherwise have access to and that this new information incites further Facebook use. Our study provides evidence of Facebook’s unique contributions to the experience of jealousy in romantic relationships.

PMID: 19366318

Aug 03


Learned about MedlineRanker through this recent article:

The biomedical literature is represented by millions of abstracts available in the Medline database. These abstracts can be queried with the PubMed interface, which provides a keyword-based Boolean search engine. This approach shows limitations in the retrieval of abstracts related to very specific topics, as it is difficult for a non-expert user to find all of the most relevant keywords related to a biomedical topic. Additionally, when searching for more general topics, the same approach may return hundreds of unranked references. To address these issues, text mining tools have been developed to help scientists focus on relevant abstracts. We have implemented the MedlineRanker webserver, which allows a flexible ranking of Medline for a topic of interest without expert knowledge. Given some abstracts related to a topic, the program deduces automatically the most discriminative words in comparison to a random selection. These words are used to score other abstracts, including those from not yet annotated recent publications, which can be then ranked by relevance. We show that our tool can be highly accurate and that it is able to process millions of abstracts in a practical amount of time. MedlineRanker is free for use and is available at

Free Full Text: [HTML] [PDF]
Nucleic Acids Res. 2009 July 1; 37: W141–W146.
Published online 2009 July 1. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkp353.
PMCID: PMC2703945

Jul 31

Health Media CSE from Hunter College

Shawn McGinniss at Hunter College let me know that Hunter’s Health Professions Education Center created a Google Custom Search Engine for searching out “health-related videos and other interactive media.”

You can try it here.

According to the CSE’s main page:

Since many educational organizations and media outlets now host full-length content online, this custom search engine aims to make it easier to find quality educational content for students, faculty, and service providers in the health professions. Our goal is to quickly and efficiently locate videos, documentaries, podcasts, lectures, interactive flash content, and other educational media. Targeted topics include nursing, public health, medicine, physical therapy, nutrition, HIV/AIDS, epidemiology, medical lab sciences, communication sciences, psychology, etc.

Shawn also allowed me to post this list of the sites the CSE searches [XML] so you can see what sites his CSE searches. This allows you to not only build on or refine his work for your own purposes, but to suggest additional resources to Shawn (having checked that his CSE isn’t already searching ’em).

If you like, you can add this CSE to your iGoogle.

Jul 30

Family Practice POC Web Geekery

University of Wisconsin Department of Family Medicine physician Derek Hubbard, MD instructs family doctors on how to find clinical information [on the Web] at the point of care.

There are definitely some good tips for clinicians here, but a couple that make me a little uneasy (like using info from as a patient handout).

Dr. Hubbard might also be interested in using the Consumer Health and Patient Education Search Engine.

[Hattip: Ratcatcher]

Jul 14

Watch Nikki Pound Clinical Reader

When I became aware of Clinical Reader (no linky Google-juice for these guys- you can find ’em if you want to), I decided just to ignore them. In previous years, I might have enjoyed pointing out various disappointing aspects of the site (I’m a peevish naysayer, it has been said). There was no need, though. There are more really good MedLib bloggers than there once were, some of whom are far better at it than I have ever been.

To my delight, Nicole Dettmar was the one to do it.

To answer Alan’s question: Probably just stupid, but they still deserve a good smacking. Jerks. “Legal ramifications,” my Aunt Fanny.

Moral of the story: Don’t try to intimidate a smart medical librarian- you’ll not only fail, but she’ll make you look *really* stupid for trying.

Go, Nikki!

EDIT: Yet another reason to love Steve Lawson.

Jun 09


Thanks so much to Laurie Blanchard and everybody at CHLA for inviting me to speak! I enjoyed Winnipeg and it was a treat to finally meet people like Francesca Frati (who is awesome) and Mark Rabnett.

The slides for my talk (which look awful in Slideshare) are embedded below.

To clarify for Krista Clement:

I think anything that removes obstacles between users and the information they want is good. If more fully automating some functions of the library makes those functions less visible, I think that’s great. I don’t think that doing a better job for users will result in decreased funding, but I do think that better automation will cut costs.

Apr 27

Watching Swine Flu on the Web

Holy cow! Holy pig!

Watching misinformation spread is sort of entertaining. Check out all the people who talk about not eating pork on Twitter. (The flu is not spread by eating pork.)

Hah! As I was writing this post, the latest xkcd appeared!

The CDC’s Emergency Preparedness and Response Twitter feed seems to be a frequently-updated source of sanity:

RSS Feed for CDC’s Swine Flu site

Google Map 1 (H1N1 Swine Flu)
Google Map 2 (“Swine Flu 2009”)
Google Map 3 (“HPAI H5N1 30-Day Outbreak Map”)

HealthMap (previously mentioned here) might be the most complete map visualization. HealthMap’s twitter feed is also interesting, but gives a more panicked impression than that of the CDC (see above)

Apr 25

*Really* Stupid Social Health Site

The idea behind is for users to rate drugs.


Our goal is to provide unique user-generated data on side effects and subtle side effects of medications. We want to know how these prescription drugs make you feel.

I’ve seen stupid applications of social media in healthcare, but this may take the cake as the dumbest I’ve seen in a good while.

Apr 02

Screencast: Introduction to new PubMed Advanced Search

Way behind on sharing this, but better late than never.

The Mayo Clinic Libraries’ Liblog has a screencast by Melissa Rethlefsen on PubMed’s new Advanced Search features that you can embed on your own page:

In case I have not mentioned it recently: Melissa is awesome.

Mar 05

Pubget RSS and Firefox Download Extension

Okay, so we already knew that Pubget is pretty neat and, for the organizations who can implement it, it speeds up the process of getting the full text PDF to the user.

Pubget’s head developer, Ian Connor, keeps me updated on new developments. I was delighted to hear that Pubget now offers RSS feeds with links to the full-text PDFs via one’s organization’s access. The example in the embedded video below uses an open access journal, but gives a good idea what the new feature looks like.

So the idea is that if you click on the link in the RSS feed, Pubget scrolls down the list of the results, highlights the right paper, and displays that PDF.

Pubget also has a new Firefox extension (available at for registered users at that will allow them “…to download all papers from a search or latest issue to their local hard drive.” See embedded video below.

If your organization uses Pubget, how about writing a review for the JMLA? Everything I see and hear from Ian looks insanely cool, but I’d love to hear what a medical librarian thinks after a road test.