PubMed changes suggested

blades at novagate.com blades at novagate.com
Thu Mar 18 09:45:29 EST 1999

Russ, I understand your concern, and agree with what you proposed.  It 
personally hasn't bothered me in my research, but I can imagine how it could. 
 I haven't used the MESH terms at all, instead relying on specific nouns 
relating to my disease in searching MedLine.

My overriding concern is the fact that PubMed will not allow downloading of 
journal articles unless one is a "health professional" and has a signed 
contract with a "local health science library" defining costs, methods of 
payment, and method of delivery.

This policy denies inexpensive access to medical information often funded by 
public tax monies through NIH or through publicly funded universities.  This 
is outrageous.  Physicians and journals have a self interest in keeping 
information from the public, and they succeed only too well.  

I happen to be one who doesn't have access to a medical school library.  
Fortunately there is a sympathetic librarian at a local hospital which belongs 
to the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, and can get me copies of 
most articles at no cost.  

I believe Medscape will supply on-line d/l of copies of journal articles but I 
think at a cost of $25 each which is outrageous and unwarranted.

I must confess, I worried about tackling PubMed/MedLine head on in regard to 
your suggestion about highlight terms and defining MESH terms, but also in 
regard to free (or very inexpensive) downloading of articles from them for the 
general public. (All us poor 'ol "health consumers"!).  My concern is that the 
medical establishment has a choke lock on information and would undoubtedly 
resist such a policy.  The only hope I see is for many large non-profit 
organizations to lobby for such a change.

Unfortunately when I approached two of them, they said it was a good idea, but 
they had no funds for that lobbying effort.

Freedom of access on the internet is almost useless with regard to medical 
journal/study information (unless there's some way I haven't been able to 
locate in 18 months of searching sporadically).

Russell Farris wrote:
> 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
> at:
>                                  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
> attention,
>  Russ Farris

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