Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Libraries, Vendors and the Economy

Yesterday I attended my first meeting with the New England Journal of Medicine Library Advisory Board and it was very interesting. We discussed a lot of issues such as the future of medical journals, libraries, technology, and users/readers.
One of the more interesting discussions centered around the future and the transition of libraries becoming more than just repositories holding books and journals (printed matter) and the transition of journals to something more than just the printed hard copy.
This transition has been happening for some time but the economy and tightening of budgets has expedited this process. It has forced all of us to evaluate our ideas about our purchases, services, and roles. Do we really want buy print journals anymore when it costs so much in personnel time and salary to check them in, process them, and claim them. There is also the cost of binding and the cost of housing them. Keeping them on your shelves has a cost, because that space could always be put to use in other and possibly better ways. Printed material isn't the only resource facing scrutiny, databases, ILS, and other online resources must prove their worth as our role changes. Questions like, "Why are we paying for $ a database when we can get it free or cheaper from another company," are taken seriously. One librarian made the comment that libraries that have focused on and built themselves as large repositories could possibly have a lot of problems coming. Because the focus is turning away from the resources within the library and turning even more to the amount and the type of user services provided. Librarians have always provided services, but outreach is even more important now. Services gets you out of your library, gets you and your library noticed and better illustrates your value to the institution than a collection of books, journals and databases does. As libraries begin to increase the type and number of services they still need some resources. But librarians are now more focused on what resources support their services in the most economical way. This might mean that certain sacred cow resources and collections might be cut to keep other more useful or profitable resources.
Obviously this impacts vendors considerably, those hurt by the economy as well as those who have made profits despite the down turn. Just like the large repository institutions facing some very tough issues, I have got to think that the larger vendors are going to be in for some interesting times. Elsevier, Springer, Wolters Kluwer, EBSCO, etc. all are fairly big companies within publishing and library world. They each have various diverse subsidiaries. For example, did you know EBSCO also makes fishing lures? Some vendors have other non library and publishing interests, such as EBSCO, others do not.
There are vendors that are not as diverse and are still very heavy in the publishing and library world. These companies may find themselves in the same boat as libraries. This might get especially interesting when the subdivisions or subsidiaries of the parent company do not communicate. If they don't communicate well then they may not have created a plan as to how the subsidiaries can work together instead of against each other. For example, a significant increase in journal prices might not only cause a library to cut journal subscriptions but it might also impact the textbook division because the library may not also buy as many textbooks in order to afford the journals they didn't cut.
This happens with the purchase of databases. If a needed database becomes too expensive yet is critical to the mission of the library/institution the library usually offsets these costs by cutting other databases, journals, and textbooks. For example, if EBSCO significantly raised the price of CINAHL (which cannot be purchased elsewhere), many libraries who need CINAHL may end up cutting their journal titles (which would impact EBSCO if they were also that library's subscription agent) or quite possibly drop full text Medline in lieu of PubMed.
We are sort of used to seeing this happen with journal collections. For example, if you decide to purchase the online full text of LWW titles and cancel the print, it will cost more to get the online title. If you subscribe to a publisher's collection of titles you might be able to drop a few titles but you are obligated to spend the same amount of money on titles, essentially switching out or trading or titles. However, this method is viewed more as punitive measure among libraries and a preventive measure within the subsidiary, it usually only helps that division not the whole company.
Times could be difficult for these big companies. The reason I think this is that many libraries have already made quite extensive cuts in publications. The scuttlebutt around the library world is that libraries will be faced with even more budget cuts next year and quite possibly into 2011. Three years worth of cuts makes me think that nothing will be safe.
Therefore it is probably more essential than ever that large library vendors with subsidiaries increase their communication and partnership efforts so that they can work together. Because if one division increases their prices significantly they could be cutting the nose off despite the face of the overall company. Yeah that division is pulling down big profits but the other divisions suffer and the overall company suffers. When large companies buy out competitors and assimilate them, there will be some growing pains and communications issues. Once the dust has settled some companies have done a better job than others at communication, letting the left hand know what the right hand is doing. Some companies have not done so well and the subsidiaries appear to be completely independent of the larger corporation. These are the companies that will have problems.
Of course this is just all just my own speculation generated by a very interesting discussion about the economy speeding up the transformation libraries and journals. The examples I provided were just examples showing how almost everything is tied together. How the price a company's product can impact and directly influence (consciously or unconsciously) whether their other products are bought or cut. In this economy it is essential that we all investigate options.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Medical Applications on Mobile Devices

Alison Aldrich on the Dragonfly blog published and interesting post on medical applications on mobile devices. She notes a report stating, "54% of U.S. physicians own a PDA or a smartphone, and more than half of them consider the device to be an integral part of their practice.



As these devices become more common, more of our patrons will be using them in the medical lives as well as their personal lives. Alison directs us to a newly recorded presentation by Shikun “KK” Jiang, Medical Applications on Mobile Devices, reviewing several free and fee-based applications for health professionals.



I thought I would add to the list:



  • I just received an email from McGraw Hill stating that AccessEmergency Medicine is available for mobile devices. Users can go to m.accessem.com to use it. You need to use your MyAccessEM to login even if you are on their institution's wifi.
  • HeartIT Physicians can simply click on a web link sent via email by one of their colleagues, enter their password, and, for example, instantly view movies of a patient’s beating heart halfway around the world. They can even put their colleagues on speakerphone and carry on a medical consultation while simultaneously browsing through the imaging results.
  • Pubget allows you to search PubMed and get the PDF right away (if possible), works with institutional subscriptions to get the PDF.
  • MIMvista provides mobile medical imaging applications and software for radiologists and oncologists.
Libraries interested in providing a list of mobile medical applications should check out LSU Health Science Center New Orleans Ische Library. Their web PDA Resources web page is very extensive listing databases and software available on mobile devices. They also list which devices are compatible with each resource and whether it is free, paid or institutional resource.

There is so much out there, it is always nice to learn about new resources for the smart phone.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Nursing@Ovid Database

About a month ago I had the opportunity to try out a new Ovid product called Nursing@Ovid (N@O). N@O's primary users are the nurses on the floor, who need answers to everyday (and maybe not so everyday) clinical questions. N@O is designed so that it can search three or more portals (additional databases) and Ovid's Nursing Collection (books and journals) at one time, similar to a universal search engine. These portals (databases) do not have to be Ovid owned databases. Therefore, libraries can add CINAHL, PubMed, Proquest’s Nursing & Allied Health Source, etc. as portals to N@O. The ability to search three portals at one time is standard, the option to add additional portals beyond the three costs extra. You can even add Amazon.com as a portal but since it is a nursing resource it would probably behoove you to stick with nursing and medically related databases.

N@O is on the OvidSP platform, meaning users have the ability to search using OvidSP's Basic or Advanced Search. The Basic search uses OvidSP's natural language processing. As a librarian I find Basic Search a little too basic, but doing a simple keyword search on wound care brought up several very relevant articles which would be helpful to a nurse who needs one or two quick articles for the moment while on the floor.

The Advanced Search is the same advanced search that many librarians prefer. Librarians normally would find Advanced Search more to their liking, but they need to be aware if they are searching multiple databases in the Advanced Search the indexing and field searching can vary according to what portals (databases) are being searched. Searchers should be aware of the other portal's indexing, tree structures (if it has one) and searchable fields because N@O will try and search using that information. But if the portal doesn't have the relevant searchable field then N@O will do a keyword search.
For example: Amazon.com doesn't have medical subject headings as a searchable field in their database. If you are doing MeSH field search and Amazon.com is one of your portals, it will do something similar to a keyword search. Ovid's N@O does deal with external indexes (the portal database's indexes), however if a portal database has a very dissimilar thesaurus, it may difficult do a good subject search. The closer the portal database's thesaurus structure is to N@O's thesaurus the better the subject searching results. Another reason to try and stay with nursing and medical databases as portals.

The results are displayed similar to the way many other OvidSP databases display results. The left hand side offers other methods for nurses to narrow results down to needed information. Nurses can narrow search results down to patient education, care plans, guidelines, etc. Ovid's N@O has some actual care plans as well as material about care plans, and users clicking on the term "care plan" will get both types of information. Currently, there is more material about care plans rather than the actual care plans, however Ovid is aware of this issue and is working to address it for their next release. Because the actual care plans and patient education information are listed in the results together with articles/chapters about care plans and patient education, I think it would be helpful for there to be a distinction between the actual care plans, patient education information, etc and articles/chapters about those things. Such a distinction whether it is an icon or wording, would allow busy nurses on the floor to easily select the appropriate results with less confusion.

If an institution subscribes to Clini-eguide, the N@O display also features a tab at the top of search area enabling the user to search Clini-eguide. However, when the user clicks on the tab the transition between N@O and Clini-eguide is a little awkward. The ability to search a product like Clini-guide, could be quite helpful and a powerful addition to N@O. Recently Wolters Kluwer just acquired UpToDate, it is unclear as to how this will impact or work with Clini-eguide. I remember sitting in on a presentation by the UpToDate reps who noted that almost 50% of the database usage was coming from nurses. Wolters Kluwer's acquisition of UpToDate, its impact on Clini-eguide and subsequent impact on N@O makes for an interesting evolution should Ovid still keep this feature available in N@O. If this feature is kept, my only suggestion would be to make the transition between Clini-eguide (or whatever it might morph into) and N@O more seamless. In an ideal world it would be nice for the results to displayed within the N@O platform.

It is helpful to know that Ovid is planning on a second update to N@O. It is my sincere hope they begin to add more unique content such as actual guidelines, care plans, and patient education information. I also would like to see them provide a quick and easy way for busy nurses to distinguish between these important aids and the articles/chapters about care plans or patient education. These two key improvements will make N@O even more of a needed resource on the floor rather than a universal search engine with nursing resources.

I look forward to the second update and if I am able to try it out I will write an update to Nursing@Ovid.

I am curious to those who have N@O, what do you like about it or don't like about it. How are your nurses using it? What kind of portals are you searching? Feel free to comment so that others can benefit from your insights.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Rethinking Universal Searching

I was never a fan of universal search engines, after all I am a librarian and according to my husband anyway, I think differently. I find using MeSH and other controlled vocabulary systems to be extremely powerful when searching medical databases. I get frustrated and annoyed by various medical database vendors' universal searching, natural language searching, or basic keyword searching. After all, the medical databases I search were built upon controlled vocabulary and hierarchical subject headings and trees. I am fluent in MeSH, CINAHL, and EMTREE. Indeed searching these databases using the controlled vocabulary is almost like using another language. And there in lies the problem.


Regular searchers don't speak MeSH. For example: Until recently (2008) "cerebrovascular accident" was MeSH speak for "stroke." The term "pediatrics" refers to the medical specialty concerned with maintaining health and providing medical care to children from birth to adolescence, NOT the age group. These are just a few of the many examples of how the MeSH controlled vocabulary is not something regular library users would know.

Many medical databases vendors have built their systems to adjust for this. Many use some form of automatic term mapping to either force the searcher to choose a MeSH term or in the case of PubMed it automatically chooses terms and searches keywords unbeknownst to the user. Sometimes this process works very well for the user, other times the user scratches their head trying to figure out why "the stupid thing keeps spitting out more terms on a new screen."

Gone are the days when the librarian was the medical database and information gatekeeper. Doctors, nurses, and patients are hopping on the Internet searching for answers. Usually they come to the library when they want something beyond what they find on the Internet. They may want results that are beyond normal Internet results, yet they want the search process to be similar to Internet search or Google searching. Many of our medical databases aren't naturally set up for that kind of searching, that is why many of the vendors started adding universal searching, natural language searching, or basic keyword searching. Not surprisingly this created two different types of searchers that database providers must try to please, the expert searcher (medical librarian), and the basic searcher (normal people).

As a medical librarian I would tell you that I never use universal searching, natural language searching or basic keyword searching. Of course that would be a big, fat, red lie. I love Google almost as much as I love MEDLINE (remember my husband did say I think differently than normal people) and I use both almost equally. I use Google to search for things that are particular stumpers in MEDLINE. Often it starts my brain thinking in a different direction and I apply that to a new MEDLINE search which might yield different or better results.

I also use Google to search for non medical resources, and it is during these times that I am most like the average searcher. I am searching something very similar to a universal search engine to find information on subjects which I am not an expert searcher. Sometimes I am looking for an odd news article and while another journalism, public, or academic librarian may know the exact news database that indexes that specific paper, I don't and I don't necessarily have access to it. So I use Google. Other typical Google searches could be on home repair, business information, investments, minor questions about the law, etc. It is at these times that I can understand the easy searching appeal universal searching has for normal library users searching for medical information.

As I mentioned, more and more database producers are creating "simpler" search features for the average person. Libraries are also adding universal searching on their web pages or on their catalogs. For example: OhioLINK's front page features a universal search to find "a few good articles and books." Library users can search the "Next Generation Melvyl" at UCLA Library, a universal search engine that finds articles, books and many more resources. The University of Iowa Libraries' "Smart Search" will not only find books and article but it will also find images in their digital collections including the Hardin MD Gallery Collections.

Christopher Cox said, "boundaries are being blurred between the academic and commercial Web, between library resources, between the citation and the item itself. Students have no patience with these arbitrary boundaries; they want information, and they want it now, wherever it may be located." (An Analysis of the Impact of Federated Search Products on Library Instruction Using the ACRL Standards, portal: Libraries and the Academy. 6(3), July 2006, pp. 253-267.) Libraries users want and use universal searching, librarians need to adapt to provide other methods to help users to search for information rather than freaking out that their beloved database product now has a universal search, natural language search, or basic keyword search feature. Perhaps our education efforts should slowly be changing from always teaching the proper MeSH search strategies to how to find good information fast and to know when you to ask for help when you need more.

I tease my husband that he took the dead language Latin in high school, however what will MeSH and other controlled vocabularies be years from now? Only learned expert searchers seem to be the ones still fluent in MeSH speak, the average person is not. Latin didn't really die, it just evolved into other languages. Our language for searching is evolving too.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

PubMed Year End Processing

NLM finished the Year End Processing December 15th. The NLM Catalog, MeSH database, and translation tables were updated to reflect 2009 MeSH and the information is now current. Important to note, the Index to the NLM Classification will not reflect 2009 MeSH changes until Spring 2009.

Here are some other changes you might be interested in:

  • NLM Bibliographic records will now include three new Publication Types; Cookbooks, Formularies, and Poetry.
  • NLM implemented the new PCC (Program for Cooperative Cataloging) Guidelines for field 440 (i.e., use 490/830 in lieu of 440) beginning November 24, 2008.
  • NLM will now copy tables of contents (TOC) and summary notes available from the Library of Congress 856 links into the bibliographic records.

Go to the NLM Technical Bulletin for more information on these changes and links to many others.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

CINAHL on EBSCO vs. CINAHL on Ovid

As it gets closer to the end of the year and libraries with CINAHL Ovid are forced to switch to CINAHL EBSCO, we are seeing more frustration from librarians regarding the differences in searching the two different search platforms.

I admit I am a die hard Ovid user. But I have been playing around with CINAHL on EBSCO ever since they released EBSCO 2.0. There are some things I really like about EBSCO's platform, but there are some things I really hate and find clunky when I am searching CINAHL. I am not the only one who feels this way, just browse through some recent MEDLIB-L threads and you can see plenty of others comparing searching on the two systems. David Dillard wrote very extensively about the differences between the two systems and how they handle multi database searching, nesting terms, field searching, and truncation.


Here are some of the things I noticed that have been giving me minor headaches:


There is a big difference for saving, print, emailing, and downloading. While I am not a big fan of Ovid's Citation Manager box and I tend to like EBSCO's folder system for selecting citations to print, email, save, etc. EBSCO's has not built into its system a method for saving all results in the set. EBSCO's system is set up for the individual searcher who can easily go through the results on their own and select relevant ones while conducting the search. It is not set up for librarians who conduct a search and then want to send the results to a patron. I just went to the eye doctor yesterday and my prescription changed, so perhaps I am just not seeing it, but there is no icon or link to select all search results. Therefore the librarian must click on every single citation to save to the folder. A slightly faster method to this would be to display 50 citations and then click on the link to add 1-50 to the folder. Then you click on the folder to send the citations via email. This is annoying and time consuming.


PDFs email out separately. If you are emailing a search that contains citations with full text articles in PDF form, those PDF articles and their citation are sent as individual emails. This method of emailing results is the default. Again this great for the individual searcher who will expect to see multiple emails in their account, but it is a poor method for a librarian sending a search results email to a patron. It is best for librarians conducting searches for patrons to uncheck the send PDF and send HTML as separate emails boxes. Leave the box, "current search history" checked. This will send all of the citations in one email and provided a persistent URL to each citation that the patron can click on and view their full text options.


While I take issue with EBSCO's method for emailing PDFs and HTMLs, please note that citations emailed from OVID are STILL lacking persistent URLs. This improvement is WAY OVERDUE from Ovid.


A few people have mentioned that thesaurus searching or searching using the subject heading is very clunky (at best) in CINAHL. I completely agree. This is one area that Ovid by far outshines EBSCO. We have the "Suggest Subject Terms" box checked as our default setting so when you type in a term like heart attack you are taken to the subject mapping screen where you can either check the box to search it as a keyword or check the box for Myocardial Infarction. Once you check a box (or boxes) you must click the search database button at the top of the screen. This is a little confusing because people tend to want to click on the browse button instead. The search box next to the browse button for searching the thesaurus not for specifically for searching or adding terms to your search. It is a poor location and poor design for this tool because it is easily mistaken as an add to search button.

If you want to add more terms to your original search then you must hit the Clear button at the top of the search button and type in a new term. This is extremely confusing! Everybody's first inclination is to type your new term in the box that says, "Add the following to your search: Term(s)." If you do this you will not be sent to the thesaurus and you will be doing a keyword search!

Some libraries have tried to prevent this confusion by using Advanced Search as their default screen. Advanced search gives the user multiple search boxes. This really doesn't help the problem, it just adds more search boxes to the confusion. EBSCO still defaults to searching terms as keywords when there is already a term in the first box. So if you want it to search your term as a subject heading then you must ALWAYS delete whatever is in the first/top search box and put the new term in.

Since you are doing a lot of single term searching (to ensure that you are searching using subject terms), you will have to click on the Search History/Alerts to combine your individual subject searches together. For example if you did three separate subject searches on cholesterol, myocardial infarction, and congestive heart failure, you must click on the Search History/Alerts link, delete everything in the search box and then check the boxes representing each subject search and combine them appropriately. If you do not delete everything in the search box prior to checking the boxes and clicking the "Add" button you will get whatever term is in the search box (usually the one leftover from your most recent search) combined with the items you checked. This is frustrating.

I am really going to miss Ovid's easy subject mapping and combining of terms.

Every database company creates their own platform and user interface. The methods you would use to search PubMed may not always be appropriate for Ovid Medline and vice versa. In the past librarians had the option to search CINAHL through different companies, Ovid, EBSCO, Proquest, and they usually picked the interface that was the right price and met their searching needs. Soon people will only be able to use EBSCO and they must adjust their methods and style of searching to best accommodate the interface. Not every difference is a shortfall, some things are better and some things are just different. EBSCO has a lot of nice features that Ovid and other platforms do not have such as the hover abstract and persistent URLs in emailed results. Only by experimenting with the systems will we learn the best methods for ourselves and our users.



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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Wolters Kluwer to Buy UpToDate

This just popped up on my feed reader, "Wolters Kluwer Health Reaches Agreement to Acquire UpToDate." According the bulletin, Wolters Kluwer Health has reached an agreement to buy UpToDate. The terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, but the bulletin reported UpToDate will be a part of Wolters Kluwar Health "creating opportunities not previously available." According to yesterday's Wall Street Journal, "Wolters Kluwer plans to expand the UpToDate service to cover neurology, immunology and other medical fields."

The transaction is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2008 pending regulatory approval.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Scopus Frustrations

I have found Scopus to be a great resource when conducting author affiliation searches. All too often an author's institution is listed several different ways. Sometimes it is the author's fault or the publication's fault, and at times it is the institution's fault with many variant names.

For example
A.B. Smith's works at Good Health Hospital System, here are some of the ways he lists his affiliation in his publications:

  • Good Health Hospital System Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology
  • Good Health Hospital Department of Quantitative Health Sciences
  • Super Medical School, Department of Quantitative Health Sciences
  • Big Money Donor Name Cancer Center, Department of Hematologic Oncology and Blood Disorders

All four "institutions" are a part of Good Health Hospital System. Super Medical School is the medical school affiliated with the hospital and the Big Money Donor Name is the name of department that is within the hospital.

If you are searching for just one author it is pretty easy to go through and select appropriate institutions. However, if you need to find out what the entire department (or hospital) published within the last year, it gets a little tricky. You have to come up with all of the various ways your institution can be listed. If your institution is very large and has undergone some name changes, this can be difficult and time consuming. However, Scopus allows you to do an affiliation search using zip codes. For large institutions where it is it's own zip code this method of searching can be very handy.

Even with this handy dandy zip code searching. I found myself frustrated with Scopus. I got a call from the head of a department wanting a search to be done to see what all 95 people in his department have authored. He wants this search to be continuously updated. He would like to receive the information as an RSS feed that you could view on his BlackBerry using Viigo. I instantly thought of Scopus. It does author affiliation searches and you get an RSS feed of your search. I tested it briefly using a few names and thought it would work perfectly.

I was wrong. According Scopus, "RSS feeds are not available for all Scopus search results. RSS availability is also dependent on settings determined by your librarian or system administrator." The odd thing is that the small little test searches I conducted were RSS-able. Even a larger affiliation search which yielded 33,000 citations was RSS-able. But when I added all 95 potential authors and combined it with my affiliation search, it was no longer RSS-able. At first I thought it was because I combined searches. Nope combined searches were RSS-able. Then I thought it might be how I searched for (and later combined) all 95 names, so I typed it all out through the advance search box and it still didn't work.

I could email the results and get automatic updates email updates to my search. But that is not the point. The point is that he and I both want it in an RSS feed. This person just wants to read it on his BlackBerry, but he could easily want to display the results on his website and RSS feed makes that easy.

So I am back to square one looking at other ways that I can get this search in an RSS feed. Any ideas?

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

EBSCO 2.0 Tutorials

EBSCO 2.0 is live. I hope everyone has had a chance to play around with it and see how it works and how various enhancements work within the databases (Medline, CINAHL, AltHealthWatch, etc.).
Of course now that there is a new look and feel along with some new features, it is time to update those tutorials and handouts. It appears that a lot of people are still linking to EBSCO's tutorials and information for now. But, here are some libraries who already have created their own EBSCO 2.0 tutorials.
PsychINFO Flash Tutorial - Trinity Western University Norma Marion Alloway Library
Academic Search Premier - Camosun College library (created while EBSCO 2.0 was in beta)

I happened to find these tutorials on the Council of Prairie and Pacific University Libraries (COPPUL) Animated Tutorial Sharing Project website, if you know of any other tutorials or handouts that have been created using the new EBSCO 2.0 information please let me know (via comment or email) so I can post it and we all can benefit.

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Updates for OvidSP

On July 31, 2008 Ovid users might notice a few new changes. According to Ovid "this release moves beyond traditional searching, delivering enhancements and exciting new functionality that improve search flexibility, personalization, and sharing capabilities, so that users can work the way they want to work."

These new features will be:
  • The main search screen will be streamlined with a sleeker and more intuitive design.
  • Search Tab Addition and Enhancements - A new Multi - Field Search tab will allow for a more targeted and specific search by providing multiple search boxes for assigning specific fields. (I have no idea what that means but will see how that works)
  • User Workflow Tools - The Search Aids box will be collapsible. Results Manager and Search History will be moveable. Font size will be adjustable via the Internet browser, and annotations will be enhanced. Email capabilities will be expanded (they dont' say how).
  • My Project Workspace Area - This is a new feature and is a direct result from customer feedback. The My Projects will provide a workspace for assemblind and organizing research findings for easier management and it is linkable from every page in the application.
  • Universal Search - This is a new "premium search offering" and is available as an add-on. It will deliver cross platform content searching within the OvidSP interface.

Ovid recomends the OvidSP Resource Center to find information on the upcoming release. In the next few weeks Ovid will add new training schedules, tutorials, and screen shots.

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Monday, June 30, 2008

Thougts on EBSCO 2.0

I really like the look and feel of EBSCO 2.0. Here is a brief run down of the new features you will find in EBSCO 2.0.



REMEMBER: EBSCO 2.0 will go live sometime in July!


Please note: I have only been testing CINAHL in EBSCO 2.0. My original test search was Caffeine and Arrhythmia. I did a few different methods of searching. I searched using subject headings, text words, and the combining terms using the search history.

Search Results: They are displayed in the middle of the screen. Quick methods to narrow the results further are display in two frames on either side of the middle screen. The nice thing is that these side screens can be collapsed providing more screen space to view the results in the main center screen. On the left hand frame, users have the option to limit their results by Source Type, Subject, Subject Major Heading, Age, Gender, and Publication Type. I am a little confused as to the difference between Publication Type (which only has book chapter) and Source Type (which has Periodicals, Book/Monographs, and CEUs). Why have both, why aren't they all under one "type," either Source Type or Publication Type?



You can click on the small arrow on the frame border to collapse or expand (once collapsed) the frame. In order to see how the left hand frame performed I just searched for Arrhythmias as a subject term. I then narrowed my search down using only the options provided on the left hand frame. I was able to easily narrow it further to Females, 65+, and Heart Failure, Congestive. EBSCO 2.0 provides a link to more subject headings from the left frame. For example, Heart Failure Congestive was not listed as a subject on the left hand frame but I just clicked More and EBSCO 2.0 provided me with a list of a few more possible subject terms. Just like in the older version of EBSCO, if users have narrowed themselves too far by using the left hand frame, they can click on the breadcrumb links up at the top of the results to broaden the search again. However, in 2.0 users can now remove items from the breadcrumb trail by clicking on the "x" and if they want, users can start a whole new search using any of the terms listed in the breadcrumbs.



In the 2.0 version the right hand frame allows people to limit results to full text and references available. It is also the area where items in the save folder are displayed. I think this is a nice feature that allows you to see at a glance the titles of articles you have saved. But if it is distracting or takes up too much screen space, users can click on the frame arrow and collapse it. Searchers can click on the Search Options link to see the entire limiting options within CINAHL. The main search screen grays out and the limit screen is super imposed on top allowing the searcher to quickly select the desired limits.

Searching Itself: From what I can tell not much has changed between 2.0 and regular EBSCO. I am not a big fan of EBSCO's search interface. I think the confusion and problems come when users try and search using the Subject Terms. We have the default checked to automatically suggest subject terms because we think using subject terms in the medical databases (such as CINAHL) is a better way to start off searching. When searchers type in a term like arrhythmia it maps to suggested subject headings. Here is where it gets confusing. The searcher selects the term then must look up at the top and click Search Database. It is extremely easy to accidentally click Browse, I have done it myself quite a few times. Clicking Browse just retrieves and displays the same set of subject headings. To librarians we usually know we clicked the wrong button, to regular users it appears they just caught in a loop.

Search History: If a user has multiple searches and wants to combine them together, they will want to click on the Search History link which located just above the search results (similar location to where the Search History tab is in regular EBSCO). This is another area that still could use some improvement and can be confusing to users. EBSCO keeps the current search in the search box and it is still present in the box when users click on Search History. The user must delete the search strategy left in the search box when they are checking searches they wish to combine. If they don't, the checked boxes are combined with the left over search strategy causing some confusing results.

Viewing Search Results within Search History: In regular EBSCO when users clicked on view search results it exited the Search History area and displayed the results. In EBSCO 2.0 it stays within the Search History and displays the results below the Search History. This can be confusing because unless users pay attention they might just think they are caught in a loop constantly viewing the Search History. It is not immediately obvious that they must scroll down to view the results.



Viewing Search Results in general: The citation display in 2.0 seems to be a little easier to read and has a slightly cleaner look than regular EBSCO. I think this because citation's title is displayed on one line while the rest of the citation information is displayed below. It also appears that the title is in a slightly larger font than the rest of the citation. For the most part I never had any problems with regular EBSCO's citation display, but this seems to be nice subtle improvement.

My absolute favorite feature improvement is the ability to hover over the magnifying glass to see the abstract while still viewing the list of citation results. No more clicking the title to see the abstract then clicking again to get back to the results list. Simply hover over the magnifying glass next to each citation and a bubble pops up with the abstract, then if the searcher is interested in the full text they can click on the buttons within the bubble to add it to the folder or view the PDF.



Easier Bookmarking: In regular EBSCO searchers could see the persistent URL at the bottom of the citation but now EBSCO 2.0 makes it easier bookmark citations by providing direct linking to a whole slew of bookmarking services such as del.ici.ous, furl, digg, etc. Articles, searches and publications can all be bookmarked.



Other features: The following features are not yet available in CINAHL and MEDLINE or are not as noticeable.



Image Quick View (IQV) - The thumbnail of the image(s) in articles can be found below the citation on the results list. These images can be pictures, illustrations, charts, and graphs. However, this option is only available with EBSCOhost journals with native PDF. All other full text journal articles with images will not have not IQV. While this is a nice way to handle images, I found that there just weren't a lot of results within CINAHL that included the IQV.



Date Slider: The date slider is not yet available for MEDLINE or CINAHL. When it is available it will be located in the frame on the right hand side. I tried using it in Academic Search Premier, it was ok, but I found it a lot easier just to type in the limiting dates beneath slider bar rather than sliding it to the desired range.



SmartText: SmartText searching is not yet available for MEDLINE or CINAHL. It allows the searcher to search any text from any article or document. Users paste a sentence, phrase, paragraph, or entire pages into the search box and will retrieve a relevant result list. I am not sure how much medical librarians will need this type of search. Perhaps if we have bits and pieces of the article we would be able to find the exact article. I thought this might be helpful for teachers or librarians investigating student plagiarism. I decided to try this method of searching in Academic Search Premier. I selected SmartText from the Advanced Search options and then I cut and paste in the box the sentence, "Cardiologists from Chicago report the case of a healthy 23-year old woman who was brought to the emergency room because of palpitations (a feeling of her heart racing) and chest tightness shortly after she drank GNC Speed Shot and a Mountain Dew soft drink. Her heart rate was dangerously high, and the doctors had to give her a medication to reduce it to normal."

I got 158,566 results (full text, 2005-2008) and the original article with that text was not listed as a top result, I couldn't find it, it was buried somewhere within those other articles. Over 100,000 citations is an awful lot to go through, especially when the simple search on caffeine produced a mere 821 citations (full text, 2005-2008). I am not so sure how SmartText is at all helpful to anybody.



Final Thoughts:

I like the overall look and feel of the new EBSCO 2.0. I think the display is cleaner and easier to navigate. I especially like hovering to view the abstract and the fact that bookmarking is easier.



I am still not a fan of EBSCO's search interface for medical or nursing searching. I think Ovid handles mapping much better and still has the best search interface (despite its quirks). If I could just attach Ovid's mapping and search interface with the rest of EBSCO 2.0's features and design, I would be a happy searching librarian.



I am confused as to how certain features like IQV, the Date Slider, SmartText would be helpful, relevant or needed by medical librarians searching the medical and nursing and allied health literature.

Don't forget to try EBSCO 2.0 out for yourself and read about the enhancements and changes. Tomorrow is July and EBSCO said it will release 2.0 sometime in July, so there is not much time left to play around before it goes live.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

EBSCO 2.0 Beta Available

If you are an EBSCO customer you should know that EBSCO 2.0 is available in Beta to help users test drive and familiarize themselves with the new interface before it becomes official in July of 2008.


You can get to EBSCO 2.0 by clicking on the New Features links on the top right hand area EBSCOhost.


Here are some things you should know before you start to play with the new version.

  • Administrators will not have the ability to customize the interface settings during the EBSCOhost 2.0 BETA preview.
  • A few databases including the CINAHL and MEDLINE suites of databases will not have the date slider and SmartText Searching features available at the release of EBSCOhost 2.0. They do expect to have these features available on these databases soon.
  • Users are encouraged to try out the My EBSCOhost features in the EBSCOhost 2.0 BETA but current personal accounts will not be available.
  • Users are free to set up a new temporary account in the BETA version to store articles and set up alerts but any saved content will not be carried over to your current account. Additionally, any saved alerts will not run. When EBSCOhost 2.0 is released, your current My EBSCOhost account will work properly and your saved information will be available.
  • Because this BETA version is being hosted differently than the current EBSCOhost, users may experience some performance issues or possibly a temporary interruption as updates are made. This will not be the case when EBSCOhost 2.0 is released in July 2008.
  • Searches conducted in the preview site will not be logged in your institution's statistics.
If you don't have EBSCO but are still interested in the new features EBSCO 2.0 will have, you can go to EBSCO's Marketing site to view a Flash demo (10 min. run time, no audio), PowerPoint slides, descriptions of the new features and functionality, and a brochure.


Time for me to get in there and start kicking the tires. I love trying out new things.

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The Krafty Librarian has been a medical librarian since 1998. She is currently the medical librarian for a hospital system in Ohio. You can email her at: