Yesterday I had a request to do some sleuthing on the article,”Androgens versus placebo or no treatment for idiopathic oligo/asthenospermia. Vandekerckhove P, Lilford R, Vail A, Hughes E. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007 Jul 18;(4):CD000150. In the PubMed citation there is a nice big WITHDRAWN in front of the title. The doctor wanted to know why the article was withdrawn.
My first stop was The Cochrane Library on Wiley. According to The Cochrane Library,”This review has been withdrawn from The Cochrane Library as it has not been updated since 1996.” Ok makes sense, if the review article hasn’t been updated in that long then I can see withdrawing it. However, I began to look a little more and of course got a little more confused. Apparently another review article (same title, authors, and CD#) was published in 2000 and does not have giant WITHDRAWN printed in front of the title on the PubMed citation.
So my brain started to ask the questions…
- If the 2007 wasn’t updated since 1996, was the 2000 article updated?
- Why is it when I search for the 2000 article in PubMed there is no mention of it being withdrawn, but when I search The Cochrane Library for both the 2000 and 2007 review articles (both have the same CD#), the databse tells me it is withdrawn?
- Shouldn’t PubMed have a big ol’ withdrawn next to the 2000 citation too?
Another question that is bouncing around in my head is in the wake of so many scandals regarding scholarly publishing, were the 2000 and 2007 articles ever updated from 1996? The way The Cochrane Library has it listed it makes me think not. Because The Cochrane Library says the article hasn’t been updated since 1996 makes me believe that the original review article was written and published in 1996 or before. However when I search PubMed there are no articles by these authors on this topic before 2000. Yet when you look at the 2000 citation it clearly points to a 1996 article:
Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2000;(2):CD000150. Review. Update in: Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 1996;(4):CD000150.
Obviously the 2007 review article has been withdrawn and I would be hesitant to use the 2000 one as well. But it is a little hard to figure out the story behind the withdrawal, other than it hadn’t been updated since 1996. But there are still a lot of questions left hanging out there. Now that things are going more digital it seems the breadcrumb path of the article is more nebulous which makes it difficult when those articles are no longer appropriate to use for treatment decisions.
Just like some people like their cars to have a manual transmission while others prefer automatics, librarians tend to fall into one of two MEDLINE camps, those who prefer Ovid and those who prefer PubMed.
I am an Ovid kind of gal. Don’t get me wrong I can do a PubMed search and have done them and still do them frequently when I need to, but my MOC (MEDLINE Of Choice) is Ovid. Since I am in Ovid often enough I tend to see and remember better certain things in my daily searches that might be good teaching methods or examples .
Because I am not in PubMed as often as Ovid, I don’t have the experience of running across good search examples that I can pass on or use while teaching. That is why I try and pay particular attention to good PubMed teaching examples as the come up. I either try and blog about them, tag them, or print them off and save them for later.
The NLM Technical Bulletin has a nice example of how to do effective phrase searching in PubMed. This is nice because certain things like “text messaging” (their example) are best searched as phrases. As the Tech Bull notes it is important to look at the Search Details to know whether your term is being applied in the MEDLINE database as you want/think it to be.
Really I tell everyone when I teach PubMed to look at the Search Details. Sometimes I wonder how much they really do that or whether the nodding of their head is not in agreement with my point but instead to the beat of some song they have stuck in their head.
Those of you in other parts of the world or who work with a lot of international medical professionals who might prefer to learn PubMed in their native language you might be interested to know that the National Library of Medicine has several PubMed guides in other languages other than English.
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According to the Technical Bulletin, PubMed has added its 20 millionth citation and PubMed Central has logged its 2 millionth article.
I almost feel like their should be some balloons falling from the ceiling, noise makers whistling, and confetti and streamers flying about to celebrate the occasion. Perhaps this is because I am a nerdy librarian who thinks 20 million citations is cool. Or it could be because I missed the party entirely (the bulletin mentions this actually happened in July.) Oh well.
Happy Belated 20 Millionth!
If you want to read a brief history about PubMed, go to the Technical Bulletin.