Magazine article Information Today

Search, Harvest, and Archive the Web

Magazine article Information Today

Search, Harvest, and Archive the Web

Article excerpt

With the large number of medical information resources on the Internet, you're officially forgiven if you think there is no room for another.

So let me introduce SearchMedica, a new search engine designed to provide links to high-quality medical Web sites producing ranked results that are organized into key categories. The service is targeted at general practitioners (GPs) in the U.K., but physicians and the general public worldwide are likely to be interested in this site.

SearchMedica was created by CMPMedica, which is part of United Business Media (best known for the news distribution network PR Newswire). Its CMPMedica division supplies healthcare and educational products such as journals and databases to doctors and patients, including a weekly newspaper called Pulse for British physicians. SearchMedica was produced in conjunction with Pulse, using extensive input from participating GPs in the design of the interface and the selection of its content.

A basic search on SearchMedica can be restricted to three broad options: medical sites chosen by GPs only, National Health Service (NHS) sites only, or the entire Web. Searches can also be limited to one of 11 different categories: clinical general, evidence, patient information, patient support, guidelines, NHS/regulatory issues, professional development, legal issues, symptoms, diseases, and medicines. Even if a search is not restricted to one of these groups, results are displayed by category in a separate results list on the lower left-hand side of the screen.

A sample search (limited to GP selected sites) for "anemia" returned 454,387 hits (as well as for the British spelling "anaemia"). Although it may be difficult to believe that each page has been individually vetted by a GP, the basic sources appear to be reputable and are more focused than the 3 million-plus hits retrieved in a search of the entire Web. Certainly, the top 10 results are not swamped with Wikipedia references. Restricting the search to NHS-only sites reduced the retrieval to just more than 19,000, with the top three hits derived from the official NHS resources: the National Electronic Library for Health (NeLH), the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), and the NHS Direct online encyclopedia.

The service provides tips for broadening or narrowing a search. For example, clicking on the broaden option for the search on anemia offered the search term "blood disease," and clicking on the narrow option offered "myelodysplasia," "hemoglobinopathy," "normocytic anemia," and "aplastic anemia." Related concepts are also suggested. In this example, "side effect" and "ferritin" were among the suggestions to narrow the search. Alternatives are also suggested for misspelled terms. Finally, the results list provides a link to the Web page of the individual hit as well as a link to the home page for the site generating that hit.

The service is free and unrestricted; there are no ads, sponsored sites, or pop-ups--an advantage that is welcomed over using a standard Web search engine. Look for updates in this column when the service moves out of the beta stage.

DRIVER Unites National Repositories

Open access (OA) and public national repositories for research information are topics that have been well-covered in IT. Now, an international project has been launched to interlink such repositories in a Pan-European, EU-funded, public infrastructure for research information. The Digital Repository Infrastructure Vision for European Research (DRIVER) will provide OA reports, articles, and raw data for researchers across Europe.

The DRIVER project will use the Dutch DARE program as a model. DARE (Digital Academic REpositories) is a joint initiative of Dutch universities to make all of their research results digitally accessible. DARE is produced by SURF, which is the Dutch higher education partnership for networking and information and communications technologies; SURF will be the Dutch project partner for DRIVER. …

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