Monday, February 2, 2009

Pat Letendre Internet Search Secrets

Pat Letendre-Professor of Transfusion medicine and an internet expert shares her search strategies with you. Enjoy it.


1. Search Medline via PubMed

Below are notes on how to search PubMed and how to save searches for later updating.


Find terms using PubMed's MeSH browser. If MeSH terms do not fit well, use free-text keywords. Combine terms using boolean operator AND. Limit the search using one of PubMed "Search Field Descriptions and Tags," for example:

* english[la]
* editorial[pt]
* review[pt]
* 1999:2005[dp]
* vox sang[ta]
* Free Full Text [Filter] - see my On TraQ blog

If an author has written extensively on an issue, use something like 'heddle nm[au]' (e.g., for causes of non-hemolytic febrile transfusion reactions ) or 'judd wj[au]' (e.g., for appropriate serological testing). Limit the hits to the past 5 years (or shorter) using "Entrez Date limit." Take advantage of the "See related articles" option.

Sample search (try it on PubMed):

creutzfeldt-Jakob AND transfusion AND english[la] AND review[pt] AND 2004:2005[dp]


There are many options to save a search. The simplest is to choose the "Save Search" link near the top right beside the search boxes. You will have to register (it's free and easy). Once a search is saved you have an option to get updates sent to you by e-mail daily, weekly, etc.

Other choices are available using the "send to" drop-down box just above the list of "hits":

One is an RSS feed, which are easy to use if you have a gmail account. After you have perfected a search that you are interest in, click on the "SEND TO" drop-down box and select "RSS feed"; then limit your "hits" to 25, 50, whatever you want; and click on "create feed", then click on XML. You should now be able to choose Google as your reader. Then you log-in to your gmail account and the PubMed feed will be there.

If Google is not offered as a choice, copy the URL on this page, as it's the address of your search feed. The URL will look something like this:

Once in Google reader and logged in to your gmail account, select "add subscription", the paste the URL into the address box.

Once you have a gmail account and do this once it will be so easy the next time. Here are examples of PubMed RSS feeds that I did for TraQ:

* Nursing-related transfusion research
* Transfusion education

2. "Anchor" Websites

- Content-specific sites (sites likely to have the information) For example:

* Chagas - WHO and CDC
* vCJD - Br Med J
* With BMJ and many other journals you can ask to be alerted when new articles cite a a paper. You can link directly to Medline abstracts by the same author. Since the link takes you to PubMed, you have direct links to related Medline citations.

- Association sites (Associations) For example:

* AABB - SIGs (members only)
* CBBS - e-Network forum
* AACC - Clinical Laboratory News (interdisciplinary topics)
* CAP - benchmark surveys, CAP Today
* TraQ - Downloadable resources, regulatory, regional and international news in transfusion medicine

3. Online Journals (Journals)

Online journals may offer free full-text articles or only abstracts (to non-subscribers). Examples of free full-text journals:

* Arch Path & Lab Medicine
* Br Med J (partial)
* CAP Today

4. Electronic mailing lists (Lists)

For topics that may not have been published extensively or are practice-related, use mailing lists, preferably ones with subscribers who are experts in their fields.

* Apply the same critical analysis to list messages as you would to published papers, i.e., consider the author's credentials and experience and whether the advice is evidence-based or anecdotal.

MEDLAB-L: Because the list uses listserv software, archives are searchable by both author and keywords, a major advantage to a list for health professionals.

* Consider using private contacts from MEDLAB-L and other lists such as Canada's Transfusion Safety Officer mailing list ("transfusion")
* MEDLAB-L is a multi-discipline list with many knowledgeable experts as subscribers. For example, there are experienced pathologists, transfusion service medical directors, laboratory technologists, immunologists, toxicologists, microbiologists, LIS specialists, educators, etc.
* Private e-mail has the advantage of being able to make politically sensitive enquiries a more confidentially than on open forums such as the AABB SIGs.

5. Search engines (General - Medical - Specialty)

* Search the WWW using a few favorite search engines, e.g.,
o Google
o Google Scholar (see TraQ blogs)
o All the Web
* Read the Help files and use an advanced search mode if one exists.
* With some search engines try a straight question, e.g., "What is a prion?"
* Depending on the topic, try medical search engines such as MedHunt.

Several search engines allow restricting hits to educational, government, and other sites. For example, with Google's advanced search page, there is an option to return results only from a particular site or domain and to return pages that link to a particular site,

* Tip: If you get hits that are dead links, click on "cached" for Google's last saved page (may be outdated but tells you what was once there)

I also use the WWW extensively for interests such as travel. Accommodations for all recent holidays have been found on the Net.
Big Picture
This website with its organized links is my personal portal to the Web.

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