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May 29, 2008

Science as Conversation, Part 1: "Is Pubmed Passé?"

Today at "lunch" I listened to a webcast presentation by a couple of my colleagues & peers here at the University of Michigan Health Sciences Libraries - Marisa Conte & Jean Song. They were presenting research data that is part of a project to develop improvements to the PubMed searching interface. The specific project under discussion today was MiSearch.

MiSearch: http://misearch.ncibi.org

MiSearch

I occasionally sent brief tweets to Twitter about the interesting data or concepts being presented. As a topic for another conversation, somehow I turned on LiveTweet by accident, so the tweets were captured as a session.

LiveTwitter: http://livetwitting.com/session/145

What was really interesting was the dialog that happened around the tweets. Specifically one comment in particular from Chris Seper.

Tweet: Is PubMed Passé?

Wow! You could have knocked me over with a feather right about then. As a medical librarian, and especially as someone heavily engaged with evidence-based healthcare and systematic reviews, Medline is a BIG part of my life! PubMed, Ovid, Silverplatter, GratefulMed, Dialog, Index Medicus, Index to Dental Literature ... the list of tools I've used for searching the medical literature goes back through decades of my life, and the tools themselves (as well as the literature) go back around 150 years. I was "raised" (as a medical librarian) on Medline as the mother's milk of authoritative medicine and healthcare.

I was immediately and urgently curious what it was about ScienceRoll search that inspired Chris to make this change. So I popped over to Chris' page and checked it out. I noticed two big differences right away -- (1) what information sources are being searched, and (2) how the results are being displayed.

SOURCES

Science Roll Example - Sources

RESULTS

Science Roll Example - Results

So what is so different? Well, when you use ScienceRoll's search you do still get results from PubMed mixed in. That is also true of Google Scholar. ScienceRoll, though, is a bit like a blogroll -- "who are your favorites?" ScienceRoll searches the crème de la crème of the medical web -- World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control, National Institutes of Health, Health On the Net, and many more. Then it gives you what it finds (a little, not too much, some consumer, some clinical) with more suggestions and ideas for refining your search. For a site targeting the general public I can definitely see why Chris felt this was a better choice than dumping John Q Public directly into the heart of the clinical dialog.

Posted by pfa at May 29, 2008 03:42 PM

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