Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Filtering out the boolean searches

There's something about PubMed's filtering function that I love...


Essentially, registered users of PubMed can create up to five customized filters that immediately narrow down your search to either the type of research you are interested in (randomized control trial, review articles) or by access (free full text, your library) or by some other means you devise.

What appeals to me is that the filtering is that it occurs automatically post-search.

In the days of yore, librarians used to try get students to stop and consider alternative keywords and how to construct a proper Boolean search and so on before they searched. But now, even random words generate something vaguely useful in the Googlesphere or the scholars portal. So rather than encouraging the user to revise the search, I think we should try to build the tools that allow the user to refine results.

With every search in Pubmed, I can immediately see the impact of five different refinements. And of course, now I want more filters.

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