Magazine article Online

TARGET for the Biomedical Searcher

Magazine article Online

TARGET for the Biomedical Searcher

Article excerpt

TARGET was introduced a year ago on DIALOG as a new search tool to retrieve high-quality hits quickly and cost-effectively. Based on relevance ranking rather than traditional Boolean logic, TARGET is typically used in full-text databases that have little or no value-added indexing as a speedy means to identify pertinent articles.

The emphasis on ease of use and no necessity to know command language in the promotional literature may lead experienced subject specialty searchers to view TARGET as strictly end-user-oriented, relegating it to the same purdah as menu-driven systems for neophytes. With results automatically limited to only 50 recently-published items, how could TARGET possibly help biomedical information professionals charged with retrieving topics affecting life-and-death decisions, whether directly related to patient care or to the long-term health and wealth of a company's drug development program? Yet there are, in fact, many potential applications of this feature that can improve the quality of Boolean search results in medical databases. "Real" searchers can and do use TARGET.

SEPARATING THE GOLD FROM THE DROSS

Despite the professional searcher's best efforts, results of many Boolean strategies are distressingly large and less precise than desired. Filtering out irrelevant material often involves time-consuming browsing. Take, for example, a search on travel medicine, a specialty sometimes dubbed "Emporiatrics" (from the Greek emporos = traveler).

?b 154,72 current
SYSTEM:OS -- DIALOG OneSearch
  File 154:MEDLINE(R) 1985--1994/Sep W3
         (c) format only 1994 Dialog Info.Svcs.
  File 72:EMBASE 1985--1994/ISS 29
         (c) 1994 Elsevier Science B.V.
>>>CURRENT started
      Set Items Description
      ___ _____ ___________
?s emporiatric? or travel(w)medicine
      S1      17  EMPORIATRIC? OR TRAVEL(W)MEDICINE

Low recall from this initial high-precision foray into MEDLINE and EMBASE indicates that a broader approach is needed.

?s travel?
      S2    2159  TRAVEL?

Sample titles from this search include irrelevant hits such as:

Human immunodeficiency virus infection in long-

distance truck drivers in east Africa.

[Long-term carrier state of methicillin resistant

Staphylococcus aureus after hospitalization!

Teaching, training and travelling

Locomotion in captive Leontopithecus and Callimico: A

multimedia study

A comparison of measured and predicted broadband

acoustic arrival patterns in travel time-depth coordi-

nates at 1000-km range

If an unexpectedly large set is not a sufficient hint that travel alone is too broad, the quick survey of a few titles from each database points to the necessity for further refinement.

?s s2 and (foreign or international or aborad or world
or global or globe?)
  S3     298  S2 AND (FOREIGN OR INTERNATIONAL OR
              ABROAD OR WORLD OR GLOBAL OR GLOBE?)
?rd
  S4        231  RD (unique items)
?t s4/ti/1--3 from each
 4/TI/1     (Item 1 from file: 154)
 [Long--term carrier state of methicillin resistant
Staphylococcus aureus after hospitalization!
 4/TI/2     (Item 2 from file: 154)
   Travel abroad: gammaglobul in or a vaccine against
hepatitis A?!
 4/TI/3     (Item 3 from file: 154)
 Holiday travel and morbidity reported to general
practitioners.
 4/TI/186     (Item 1 from file: 72)
 Viral hepatitis E: Epidemiological and clinical data
in France and in the world
 4/TI/187     (Item 2 from file: 72)
 Rabies and travel: Who should be immunized?
 4/TI/188     (Item 3 from file: 72)
 Leishmaniasis of the tongue treated with liposomal
amphotericin B

Results of the modified strategy are generally good, but just enough questionable material is mixed in with obviously relevant cites to warrant careful editing of results before forwarding them to a client. …

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