Feb 10

Yet Another Reason to Love the NLM: Emergency Access Initiative

I just caught up and noticed this…and think it is brilliant.


The Emergency Access Initiative (EAI) is a partnership of the National Library of Medicine, the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, and the Professional/Scholarly Publishing Division of the Association of American Publishers. EAI provides free access to full text articles from major biomedicine titles to healthcare professionals, librarians, and the public in the United States affected by disasters.

Of course, I won’t be using this because I’m not doing anything related to the disaster in Haiti- but the NLM deserves all kinds of attention and praise for doing this, as do contributing publishers:

American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American College of Physicians, American Society of Health-Systems Pharmacists, ASM Press, B.C. Decker, BMJ, Elsevier, FA Davis, Mary Ann Liebert, Massachusetts Medical Society, McGraw-Hill, Merck Publishing, Oxford University Press, People’s Medical Publishing House, Springer, University of Chicago Press, Wiley, and Wolters Kluwer.

Mar 24

Venting About a Vendor

I spent too much of today on the phone with a vendor from whom I’d requested an advertised, free, 30-day trial of an information resource on behalf of a clinical department at MPOW. (For now, I won’t name the product or company, but I welcome your guesses in the comments.)

After 30 minutes of my patiently letting her finish pitching me with sales information I did not want (We’re already interested in the product! Why would I ask for a trial and quote otherwise?!), I asked for the third time if we could get a quote.

Vendor: Well, I’d really like for you to have the trial for a week before I tell you that.

[Uncomfortable pause]

Me: I can understand why, from a sales perspective, you’d want that. However, if my internal client evaluates the trial for a week, likes it, and THEN finds out it is impossibly beyond her budget, she will have wasted a week of her valuable time…so I need to have that information up front.

Vendor: Well, how much money do you have budgeted for this type of resource?

[Uncomfortable pause as I wrestle with my disbelief that the question was asked]

Me: (Slowly and calmly) Lets assume for a moment that I have that information. The quote you give me should be based on what you feel the product’s market demand merits. If I have that kind of information, let us assume that there is no way on earth I’d share it with you. The quote you give us will not be based on how much money is available.

Vendor: Well, we don’t want to devalue our data either.

Me: That’s why you set prices based on market demand, not on how much money the prospective client has, especially in this economy. Right now, you’re devaluing a prospective client– and I suspect that’s even worse for your bottom line than devaluing your data.


Fortunately, my internal client finds this behavior as despicable as I do.

How often have you had conversations like this with vendors and how do you handle them?

Seriously- tell me your vendor horror stories?

(Again, I’d love to hear your guesses about who the vendor/product is. If you guess correctly in the comments, I’ll email you and tell you so.)

Jun 20

An Evaluation of the Five Most Used Evidence Based Bedside Information Tools in Canadian Health Libraries

Farrell, Alison. “An Evaluation of the Five Most Used Evidence Based Bedside Information Tools in Canadian Health Libraries” Evidence Based Library and Information Practice [Online], 3 17 Jun 2008

Full text (PDF)


Objective – This project sought to identify the five most used evidence based bedside information tools used in Canadian health libraries, to examine librarians’ attitudes towards these tools, and to test the comprehensiveness of the tools.

Methods – The author developed a definition of evidence based bedside information tools and a list of resources that fit this definition. Participants were respondents to a survey distributed via the CANMEDLIB electronic mail list. The survey sought to identify information from library staff regarding the most frequently used evidence based bedside information tools. Clinical questions were used to measure the comprehensiveness of each resource and the levels of evidence they provided to each question.

Results – Survey respondents reported that the five most used evidence based bedside information tools in their libraries were UpToDate, BMJ Clinical Evidence, First Consult, Bandolier and ACP Pier. Librarians were generally satisfied with the ease of use, efficiency and informative nature of these resources. The resource assessment determined that not all of these tools are comprehensive in terms of their ability to answer clinical questions or with regard to the inclusion of levels of evidence. UpToDate was able to provide information for the greatest number of clinical questions, but it provided a level of evidence only seven percent of the time. ACP Pier was able to provide information on only 50% of the clinical questions, but it provided levels of evidence for all of these.

Conclusion – UpToDate and BMJ Clinical Evidence were both rated as easy to use and informative. However, neither product generally includes levels of evidence, so it would be prudent for the practitioner to critically appraise information from these sources before using it in a patient care setting. ACP Pier eliminates the critical appraisal stage, thus reducing the time it takes to go from forming a clinical question to implementing the answer, but survey respondents did not rate it as high in terms of usability. There remains a need for user-friendly, comprehensive resources that provide evidence summaries relying on levels of evidence to support their conclusions.

Full text (PDF)

Jan 19

OvidSP Resources

The Krafty Librarian has assembled a number of useful resources on OvidSP that should be helpful to those still working on transition plans.

You can also check out what other medical libraries are doing by searching the Medical Library CSE for ovidsp.

You could even seek out specific instructional materials by searching for Ovidsp (handout OR instructions OR “how to” OR training)

For what the biblioblogosphere has had to say about OvidSP, see this LibWorm search.

Nov 20

The Visible Body

The Visible Body looks really neat and claims it will be released with free access (requiring registration) any day now.

(Above: Embedded video. If you are reading this in your feed aggregator, you may need to visit the site to view the video)

The Visible Body features a 360 degree, whole-body, 3D model that allows unparalleled investigation and study of human anatomy and physiology. Available on the Web, the Visible Body runs in Internet Explorer on any PC* connected to the Internet. A free, fully interactive release is scheduled for mid-November 2007.

With the Visible Body, users can:

• View highly detailed models of all body systems.
• Search for and locate anatomical structures by name.
• Click on anatomical structures to reveal names.
• Rotate and explore anatomy in a virtual space.
• Peel away layers to view relative placement of the components of all body systems.
• See placement of specific organs relative to other anatomical structures.
• View anatomical structures with or without surrounding anatomy.
• Investigate anatomy virtually, without the costly cadaver lab.

*System Requirements: Windows XP/2000/Vista, Internet Explorer 6.0 or above, Flash Player 8.0+.

I can imagine a lot of uses for such a tool…but if the free tool is everything the video claims, I can’t help but wonder why it is free. Is it just a very expensive (and cool) way to publicize what Argosy can do?

Nov 14

Elsevier’s WiserWiki

Elsevier's new medical wiki, WiserWiki is now live and "in Beta." 

I hadn't realized until now exactly how worried publishers might be about tools like AskDrWiki and Ganfyd. I always thought that AskDrWiki or Ganfyd, if developed and maintained well, might threaten to take business away from UpToDate, DynaMed, MDConsult or other similar products- but it would appear that Elsevier sees them as a bigger threat than I have. Why else start a brand-new medical wiki and seed it with content they own from John Noble’s “Textbook of Primary Care Medicine”? In doing this, Elsevier probably hopes to gather the users that would otherwise use Ganfyd or AskDrWiki (or Wikipedia). This way, they can sell advertising and promote their own offerings. Brilliant.

Still, I think it'll bomb. Sure, people will be happy to make use of the free content that Elsevier seeded it with, but I think that Physicians inclined to contribute to a wiki will prefer to contribute to AskDrWiki or Ganfyd.

WiserWiki's Terms and Conditions say:

All content in this Site, including site layout, design, images, programs, text and other information (collectively, the “Content”) is the property of Elsevier and its affiliated companies or licensors and is protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. You may not copy, display, distribute, modify, publish, reproduce, store, transmit, create derivative works from, or sell or license all or any part of the Content, products or services obtained from this Site in any medium to anyone, except as otherwise expressly permitted under applicable law or as described in these Terms and Conditions or relevant license or subscriber agreement.

Really? Even the stuff that contributors write?

We do not claim ownership of any material that you provide to us (including feedback and suggestions) or post, upload, input or submit on or through this Site, including our blog pages, message boards, chat rooms and forums, for review by the general public or by the members of any public or private community (“Submission”) and we are not responsible for its content or accuracy.


Okay, I guess that's good…

…However, by posting, uploading, inputting, providing or submitting (“Posting”) your Submission you grant us, our affiliated companies and sublicensees permission to display, publish and otherwise use your Submission in any format in connection with the operation of our respective businesses (including, without limitation, the Site). No compensation will be paid with respect to the use of your Submission. We are under no obligation to display or otherwise use any Submission you may provide, and we may remove any Submission at any time in our sole discretion.


So…Elsevier provides the server and hosting…and physicians write the content…but Elsevier can leverage the content for profit? I think that if a physician is the sort of community-minded sharer who gives her/his time and expertise for free (hint: these are the sorts of physicians who contribute to Wikipedia or medical wikis), he/she will probably prefer to give it to a non-profit than to let Elsevier make money off of it.

 And what about this:

Q: Who holds the copyright to the information submitted on this site?
A: Contributors retain the copyright to information they contribute to WiserWiki. Please read our Terms & Conditions.

How do you simultaneously have authors retain copyright…and have documents editable by registered users? Perhaps Elsevier intends for contributors to only submit full, complete articles for consideration of inclusion…but wouldn't that defeat about half the purpose of making the site a wiki instead of a digital book?

(Added to the List of Medical Wikis)

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, www.OncologySTAT.com, 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.

Visit OncologySTAT.com

Jul 31

Questions about UpToDate

There’s been another big surge in online discussion of UpToDate recently.

Prediction: As time passes, UpToDate will have more and more well-designed, well-maintained, effectively-marketed, affordable competitors. The competition will bring subscription costs down to a more reasonable level.

To keep up with future commentary on UpToDate from the medical blogosphere, subscribe to this MedWorm feed.

Jun 22

Search Strategies in Ovid Syntax and the PubMed translation

Check out this page from McMaster University’s Health Information Research Unit

For each purpose category (therapy, diagnosis, prognosis, reviews, clinical prediction guides, qualitative, causation (etiology), costs, economics), the following data are shown: the single term with the highest sensitivity while keeping specificity at ³ 50%; the single term with the highest specificity while keeping the sensitivity ³ 50%; the single term with the least (minimal) absolute difference between sensitivity and specificity; and then the same data for multiple terms (the single term strategy may be shown again if it performs at least as well as multiple terms). In the second column of the table the search strategies are shown in Ovid syntax followed by the PubMed translation. In the third column of the table: sens = sensitivity; spec = specificity; prec = precision; acc = accuracy. References for the methods and individual categories appear at the end of the document.

May 29

Medical eBook Vendor Comparison

The April 2007 issue of Against the Grain has an article worth reading for anyone who does collection development for a medical library:

Rx: eBooks — A Comparison of Functionality of Four Medical eBook Collections
by Annis Lee Adams (E-Resources/Information Services Librarian, Health Sciences Library, University of Hawaii at Manoa)
Against the Grain, Volume 19, Number 2

Compares Access Medicine, MD Consult, Ovid Books, and STAT!Ref.

Apr 30

Update on EBSCOhost RSS Features

Got email from EBSCO’s Kathleen McEvoy who says that the policies I criticized yesterday have been miscommunicated and misunderstood.

The user doesn’t have to click on an item and go to EBSCO to prevent a feed from expiring. What keeps the feed active is that EBSCO notes it is still being polled regularly by your aggregator.

The feeds that disappear after a week are those that have been created but not subscribed to. It is reasonably assumed by EBSCO that feeds that are created and not polled by any aggregators were created by accident and deleted.

Kathleen also notes:

These limits only apply to users who aren’t signed in. If you’re logged into your My EBSCOhost account, one-click alerts follow the normal with regular renewal notices.

EBSCO has posted an updated explanation of how these work.

Thanks, Kathleen, for clearing this up.

Apr 29

EBSCOhost‘s modestly improved RSS features (edited 04/30/07)

[EDIT] Please disregard the criticisms of EBSCO’s policies in the latter part of this post. They were not explained or understood well. See this post for clarification.[/EDIT]
I was in the process of writing detailed instructions on how to use the new RSS features in EBSCOhost when I saw Paul Pival’s kick-butt screencast.

Paul has posted a larger, higher-quality version here.

EBSCO’s announcement: EBSCOhost RSS Feed and Search/Journal Alert Upgrades

Okay, this is an improved interface for feeds, mostly because the feeds are easier to find. However, Ken Varnum and Paul both point out the regrettable policy EBSCO has put in place by which feeds will be deleted if they are inactive for two months or if they are not accessed within a week of creation. With apologies to the very nice people I know at EBSCO, this is an extremely unwise policy.

The POINT of search-based feeds is that the user doesn’t have to come back and CHECK every two weeks for new hits. Forcing the user to come back to the site sort of defeats the purpose of the feeds.

Dear EBSCOfolk

Feeds make it more likely that people are going to actually USE your service and increase usage stats. Feeds cost you very little in resources. They buy goodwill and convenience for the user at extremely low cost.

A number of resources I can access through EBSCO are also available (at my local academic library) through other vendors. If you’re going to make it so dang inconvenient, I (as a user) will create search feeds for those resources through your competitors’ services and access the full text through your competitors’ services.

Please consider instead just requiring the user to confirm his/her wish to continue the feed annually. If you like, you can even send an item down the feed every week to say “no new hits.”

While this policy is in place, RSS feeds in EBSCOhost‘s RSS “enhancements” are, I’m sorry, next to useless for my purposes.

PubMed already has feeds, OVID is going to roll them out this year. EBSCO Medline fulltext is going to look ridiculous if this doesn’t change. Feeds are a current awareness tool, just like the emailed alerts. PLEASE stop crippling their usefulness.

Mar 20

EBSCO to deliver blog content

From the press release:

IPSWICH, Mass. & GUILFORD, Conn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–EBSCO Publishing (EBSCO), the world’s premier database aggregator, and Newstex, the Content On Demand™ company, today announced an alliance to deliver Newstex Content On Demand™ and Newstex Blogs On Demand™ via nearly 100 EBSCO databases to customers worldwide. As part of the distribution agreement, full-text blog content from premier Weblogs with historical archives in a wide variety of categories including art, career, economics, environment, finance, food, health, law, marketing, medical, technology, and many more will be made available in online aggregated databases for the first time.

Unlike existing Web-based blog aggregation services, Newstex actually licenses influential blog content directly from independent bloggers and then takes in each carefully selected blog feed in text format and uses its proprietary NewsRouter technology to scan it in real-time. The resulting blog feeds, news feeds, and historical archives are delivered to EBSCO for distribution to customers in applicable databases.

“Blog content is becoming more prominent in all facets of research,” said Dave Mangione, vice president of product management and content licensing for EBSCO Publishing. “With Newstex as our partner, the value of such content is significantly increased due to the high quality control standards Newstex follows in their effort to gather and disseminate blog content. We are pleased to add full-text blog content from Newstex to help meet the increasing customer demand in this area.”

Larry Schwartz, Newstex president, added, “Blog content is growing in importance for every discipline and in every industry. But the challenge is to deliver blog content with comprehensive history to customers in the applications that they rely on every day. Now, EBSCO Publishing customers will enjoy commentary on a wide variety of topics from influential bloggers as part of their existing services.”

Newstex automatically tags each blog post with company names, stock tickers, key executives and government officials, and detailed topical categories. Each news story and blog post delivered as part of Newstex Blogs On Demand will include Newstex’s proprietary PeopleTickering™—a system that synthesizes metadata from numerous premium sources and quality blogs to create a database of people who make the news.

Here’s a list of blogs included in Newstex’s Blogs On Demand™ offerings. It includes only 10 medical blogs. Since most blogs are freely available on the Web and blog search engines continue to improve (I’m a big fan of Google Blog Search), I wonder if the added value will be solely from the Newstex ‘tagging’. The PeopleTickering™ sounds a lot like a meme-tracker for names, doesn’t it? Perhaps like pmeme?

Feb 23

Web 2.0 and Publishing (edited)

Interesting article from Information World Review.

Some excerpts:

Tom Coates, a technologist from Yahoo Technology Development, kicks off by summing up the disruption in attitude that is affecting information providers. “It’s in your interests as an author, researcher or scientist to get your work read, so you slap it on the internet, but that is not in the interests of your publisher,” he points out.

[My emphasis]


Coates divides Web 2.0 usage into two areas: “Collective intelligence and social software is one clump; the reuse and openness with data is a second theme of Web 2.0.”

Put another way, the first clump he’s talking about contains things like del.icio.us and Wikis. The “second theme” is exemplified by RSS and mashups.

Paul Miller, technology evangelist at library automation supplier Talis , adds: “The debate is how do publishers and scholars share data, yet formulate a business model?” For Talis, Web 2.0 is anything but disruptive. “The library market is not growing,” Miller says. “We were looking at taking our information management knowledge out to new markets.”

[My emphasis]

Miller also says “[b]logs and wikis are buzz – they will go away.”

While I agree that they are subjects of a lot of buzz, they’re not going away. The buzz will die down as they (and/or their descendent technologies) become commonplace, but I don’t believe they will go away.

(EDIT: Please see Paul’s clarification of this point.)

I was also tickled to see these buttons at the bottom of such an article:

There’s the “first clump” at work.

Go read it.

(Thank you, InfoBunny!)

Feb 05

Rittenhouse Book Distributors’ R2 Library

Library Journal:

Health sciences & medical librarians If you haven’t yet taken a look at Rittenhouse Book Distributors’ R2 Library, you should. It offers digital full text with a lovely twist—your library selects and purchases only the titles you need rather than having to take a “blanket” list. In essence, you don’t pay for what you don’t want. For more information, and to request a trial, go to www.rittenhouse.com.


There’s a flash demo here.
Title List (.xls)

If you’ve tried it or started a 30-day trial, what did you think?

Sep 29

Update: Ovid RSS

Hurray! Got a great new email from Ovid support:

Our OvidSP interface, which is a new build of our gateway interface from the bottom up, DOES include RSS feed. I am sorry to have led you astray…

In addition, if you wished to create alerts with RSS output, you can create them by following the the process outlined below and the results can be sent to you:

  1. Go to http://www.lwwonline.com. This web site provides a list of all of the LWW titles. When clicking on the link for the title, it brings you to the associated web page. As an example, click on AIDS.
  2. Scroll to the end of the page… You can create an alert and subscribe by clicking here and following the prompts: rssfromlww
Sep 28

OVID is (not) Planning on adding feeds?

UPDATE: Just got email back from our Ovid rep who says “I know for a fact we are including RSS feeds into the new Ovid interface. I am checking about your specific question below.”

Here’s hoping.

OvidLogo thumbsdown
Someone at Ovid had told me some months ago that Ovid planned to add feeds for TOC alerts or search alerts, so I emailed technical support this week to ask when that might happen.

Here was the answer from support[at]ovid[dot]com:

I have researched and found that there are no plans to implement eTOC Alerts in an RSS feed format.

This is surprising to me, as PubMed and EBSCO Medline already do this. To think that Ovid doesn’t even want to try to catch up in this regard is baffling. It would be so incredibly useful to my library and the clinicians we serve to be able to produce feeds from Ovid with links that open in Ovid. This would raise usage stats, too- benefiting clinicians, libraries, and Ovid.

If your library uses Ovid, I hope you’ll join me in contacting your Ovid rep to express your disappointment.

Sep 18

5 Reasons NOT to Choose a [particular] Technology Solution

There’s a particularly great post at TechEssence by Ellyssa Kroski:

Whether we want to admit it or not, none of us is completely objective when it comes to choosing technology, or anything else for that matter. We attempt to collect and analyze an unbiased portrayal of the facts, but there are always outside influences which affect and shape our decisions. While carefully researched recommendations by respected publications go a long way to helping us with our decisions, one arresting tale from a colleague about terrible customer service and frequent down-time will send most of us into a 180° spin. How can we make solid decisions about technology for our organizations? One way is to keep in mind some common “soft spots” that people have when making these choices.

Read the whole excellent thing. It is filled with advice that should be reviewed and heeded by both both the techno-neophyte and the seasoned geek.