Thursday, February 5, 2009

Hidden in the Bookshelf: PubMed & Discovery Initiative

Many thanks go out to Kathel Dunn, Associate Fellowship Coordinator at the National Library of Medicine (NLM), who sent me an email and Amy Donahue, Associate Fellow at NLM, who wrote a #pubmed tag on Twitter (what does that mean?) at about the same time this morning.

The news?

Buried within the NCBI Bookshelf, yet not the same as the Bookshelf announcement listserv or linked from the Bookshelf front page (check the 'breadcrumbs', or filepath below), are NCBI News archives including a February 2009 article with details about the Discovery Initiative and PubMed.

Please read Featured Resource: Improvements to NCBI Services Promote Discovery in its entirely (not too long & very informative) and click on the links of the PubMed screenshots highlighting the Document Summary view of the Gene Sensor, 'Also try..' and 'Recent Activity' in addition to the Abstract Plus summary view of the pre-computed Related Articles and Recent Activity. See how the article title is the hyperlink in the Document Summary view but not in Abstract Plus view as noted in the PubMed Update guide?

As an update regarding #pubmed on Twitter: I have heard from NLM that several there are 'aware of' this as a user feedback venue, yet feel that 'it is too brief.' Again, to my knowledge there is no official NLM presence on Twitter or other social media venues, although the National Institutes of Health (NIH, which includes NLM as 1 of 27 Institutes and Centers) does have two Twitter news accounts.

I offer as a contrast the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)'s involvement in social media, which David Rothman has covered well.

Andrew P. Wilson, who describes himself as "Member of HHS social media team," (The Department of Health and Human Services - HHS - includes NIH, CDC, FDA & many others) noticed that many people stopped following the FDA recalls Twitter account today. Note his approach to soliciting and responding to user feedback below (read from the bottom up):

Later he wrote as an additional response "Thanks - an experiment and there will be successes & failures (and in between). Appreciate everyones feedback, & support though."

An experiment. Willingness to try. Soliciting and appreciating user feedback. Placing so much information on a single page instead of having to dig through various venues to find relevant news.

Mr. Wilson, you have my thanks for your approach during the increasing number of peanut product recalls, and I hope NIH (and NLM) is included within the scope of the HHS social media team.


Alison Aldrich said...

I can understand NLM's frustration with receiving feedback about PubMed in chunks of 140 characters or less. There is not much room for context or constructive suggestions in a tweet. As you said before, though, #pubmed (like MEDLIB-L, but more on the fly) does give librarians the chance to read others' feedback about PubMed. We are more likely to come up with constructive suggestions as a community.

What I would like from NCBI is more transparency about their web development and usability testing processes. Why this method of pushing features out to some users, some of the time?

To help with this effort NCBI is also designing Web interfaces and links so that the effectiveness and popularity of these changes can be measured and studied.

What does this mean?