People sometimes ask, how do you find these new search engines? My reply: Usually I don’t remember! A health science librarian looks at many sites daily to locate the information their users are requesting… we jump all over the web in order to find those answers. Every day (or most days anyway), PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, PsycInfo or SciFinderScholar are the sources which I search and trust the most for current, reliable clinical information. You should too.
Following are three free search tools to take for a “test drive” when the next evidence-based medicine search comes up. (Example searches employed clinical medical terms, not common or lay terms which a patient or consumer would use).
In the case of Search Medica, it appears that I actually signed up to receive news updates (don’t recall when!). What is the purpose of SearchMedica and who is responsible for the site? The answer is CMPMedica, the U.S. subsidiary of the British company, United Business Media. Brian Quinton wrote an interesting background article about SearchMedica on the DirectMag.com website (posted Jan 31 2007).
Currently there are three searchable subjects on SearchMedica: Primary Care, Psychiatry and Hematology/Oncology. A recent search within the Hematology/Oncology section for the term “lupus anticoagulant” revealed the following top list of results:
A clinical psychologist-blogger weighs in on SearchMedica on PsychSplash (posting dated Oct 26 2007). Also, a related link at Psychiatric Times details why a psychiatrist may want to consider using SearchMedica: Psychiatry (Mar 1 2007).
Next: Search Engine Watch.com reporter Chris Sherman outlines the new Google Custom Search Engines (posted Oct 24 2007). Here is a big fact to know about this site: while access to Google CSE is free, the intended purpose of the search engine is for application by an individual blogger or website administrator (not an individual). However, I tested the search site out and so can you! Registration and log-in is optional.
Click on this link: “Health Professional’s Medical Search“. The search was for “leukemia disseminated intravascular coagulation“. Here is a screenshot of the results:
Once you have executed a search and retrieved citations on CSE, you may then click-through PubMed, and your search terms in CSE will be saved onto the PubMed search page which is a practical, value-added link from the designers.
Lastly: The Medical Algorithms Project (Medal) is an entirely different free clinical search tool from those above. In order to access the full contents of this non-profit site, registration is required. After logging in, a user has access to 400 medical tests or calculations.
Today, the search was done on “disseminated intravascular coagulation“. Five tests or diagnostic-criteria lists were retrieved. All retrievals provided references from well-known medical journals, and several of the cited references were quite current (2007 references):
The Medal site also allows you to cut and paste your search statement and run it in PubMed (this feature shows up at the very bottom on the Medal retrieval page), a very welcome and useful link.
The sponsor of The Medical Algorithms Project is the Institute for Algorithmic Medicine. One of the main creators is a Texas physician, Dr. John Svirbely. Following is a screenshot of the “About” page:
Medical librarians are a conservative lot when it comes to information acquisition, management and dissemination of reliable clinical information. One of our principal charges is to archive information for future generations. Many of us in the library profession have witnessed excellent start-up information companies or products come onto the market, flourish for a number of years, innovate, grow, create more capital… then slowly their corporate marketing departments “forget about service” for various reasons and their advantage is permanently lost. Established subscription products can suddenly languish, lose market share, become for-profit (or price themselves out of the business). Free sites disappear at will. Lively market competition guarantees change. To an expert searcher, information is a commodity.
Please take some time and try these search tools – see how (or if) they work for your clinical queries! But know this: they are not – nor should you treat the information you find on them – as reliable as information you will find on the National Library of Medicine’s NCBI site.