PubMed changes suggested

Russell Farris tryggvi at email.msn.com
Wed Mar 17 20:31:48 EST 1999

A few days ago I sent a letter to the PubMed folks--repeated
below--suggesting a way of speeding up searches of their archives. I
received a very polite note back saying essentially that if it needed
fixing, they would have already done so. If you read my letter and agree
with me, then I wish you would take a few minutes to drop a line to PubMed

                                pubmed at ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

        Thanks for your attention, and please excuse the cross posting--I
won't make a habit of it.

Russ Farris
Dear PubMed,

        I'm a retired computer scientist writing a book for the general
public about Chlamydia pneumoniae, and in the course of researching it I
have had to learn a great number of medical terms. I have learned almost
enough to complete the book, but I find I am often looking for information
at the outer limits of my present knowledge, and it is often unclear to me
what (MESH?) terms in the abstract are synonyms for the terms I entered. It
would be a great boon to those of us who look at hundreds of PubMed
abstracts if you would highlight in some way the search terms used in
selecting the abstracts.

        There is also the question of time. If the terms of interest are
highlighted, I can tell in a few seconds whether the abstract is of value to
me, wheareas now I have to scan every line looking for my term--or the term
the search engine has ingeniously added--and that takes time away from my
research and writing. Searching for one barely understood term among a page
full of strange terms is hard on my aging eyes.

        DejaNews and other search engines show search terms found in text in
bold, so the technological challenge cannot be very great. Thanks for your

 Russ Farris

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