Monday, May 19, 2008

MLA '08: PubMed Review & NLM Drug Information Portal

If you're in Chicago for MLA 2008, don't miss the NLM theater (Booth 532) as you make your rounds to drop business cards in for iPods & Coach bags while sipping your champagne and eating chocolate dipped strawberries from vendors with enormous marketing budgets! I attended two 20 minute sessions yesterday on what's new & upcoming with PubMed and the relatively recent debut of the NLM Drug Information Portal.

Have you noticed the new Advanced Search (beta) link to the right of the traditional search box in PubMed? Yeah, I hadn't either. Oops. The results I'm currently receiving aren't replicating the all options I remember from the presentation so it may still be a work in progress. New features they displayed include automatic term mapping (ATM), a citation sensor (where recommended citations are featured at the top of results if a search seems to follow that format), enhanced diacritics (no more Americanized äs), and a browser advice section that provides help for users with older versions that aren't compatible with PubMed.

The major change in this beta is the use of ATM in general searches, where they're seeking to move away from being so subject-centric in results (blah blah[MeSH Terms] OR blah blah[Text Word]) by including a range of other options (blah blah[Jour] & a bunch of others I'm not remembering). However, the end result is that more records received when using these ATM search strategies that could be less precise for MyNCBI/RSS feeds and regular users of PubMed are encouraged to use Advanced Search to pare things down may be a good idea. This caused a bit of a ruckus at the presentation I went to and, as always, NLM encourages our feedback by submitting email from the link at the bottom of each page.

Changes that were stated as being in the future with PubMed include MyNCBI data being recoverable, as currently if you forget your login/password you are out of luck, and a My Bibliography feature where authors can create collections of work and save that to search within results. So cool!

I forgot to take notes at the NLM Drug Information Portal, but if you haven't previously checked it out definitely add it to your pharmaceutical toolkit! It's pretty straightforward to play around in the tabs to see what's there, but a feature currently in development is a pill identifier similar to the one at They warned it may be a few months before that section goes live because it's pretty detailed work to take high quality photos of all those pills then map them to all the different shapes, colors and sizes they're in!