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.