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Customize your PubMed search results

As of yesterday (3/16/10), users of PubMed have more options for customizing the display of their search results using MyNCBI. According to an editor’s note added to the March 12, 2010 technical bulletin:

The current default in PubMed displays multiple items in the Summary format, 20 per page, and sorted by items recently added at the top. To change this, access My NCBI, click on “PubMed Preferences,” then “Result Display Settings.”

“The Krafty Librarian” blog correctly points out some of the shortcomings of this system in general:

The folks over at NCBI, NLM, and everybody else tinkering with PubMed to make it “more user friendly” for average users fail to realize the name MyNCBI means absolutely nothing to the average user. The average user is used to MyCart, MyFolder, MyResults, MySaved, etc. Think Amazon.com, that is what people are used to using, not cutesy names for things like MyNCBI. They don’t think MyNCBI is where they save stuff and where they can save filters for more tailored results. I think you would get more average people using the very strong MyNCBI features if you labeled it something else. Heck I would venture to guess most “average” users don’t even know about filters because they are hidden behind MyNCBI.

The next step that NLM could and should take in this area is to make the system sensitive to institutional users. Every online service wants you to create your own myWhatever account: iGoogle, myYahoo!, etc. Why not allow for institutions to set the display preferences for search results? The Eccles Health Sciences Library can link PubMed search results to full-text items in its collection, but the end-user has to be trained to manually change the display settings from “Summary” to “Abstract” to see these results. This presents the user with icons that link to our collection. If a user searches PubMed from an institution such as ours it should automatically display links to full-text within our collection.

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