Friday, December 30, 2005

Podcast May Be the Word of the Year, But Google Has Changed Medicine

Yesterday, Ruth directed me to an editorial in BMJ (2005;331:1487-1488) by Dean Giustini, How Google is changing medicine (free online). I think it is a fitting article to wrap up the 2005 year on this blog.

Podcast may be the word of the year, but Google has transformed society's information searching behavior, becoming an action verb in today's language. How many times has the phrase "Oh wait let me Google that," come across your lips or ears. Finding anything from theories about the show Lost to medical answers, people turn to Google when they want answers to their questions.

Not only are librarians questioning and examining their services, their roles, and their future in a Google searching and thinking society, Robert Greenwald, M.D. wonders about the role of the physician and Google. "Are we physicians no longer needed? Is an observer who can accurately select the findings to be entered in a Google search all we need for a diagnosis to appear, as if by magic? The cases presented at clinicopathological conferences can be solved easily; no longer must the discussant talk at length about the differential diagnosis of fever with bradycardia. Even worse, the Google diagnostician might be linked to an evidence-based medicine database, so a computer could e-mail the prescription to the e-druggist with no human involvement needed. " (N Engl J Med 2005;353: 2089-90 free online)

In the BMJ editorial Dean Giustini mentions that Google won the battle of the search engines and is now gaining significant ground in the battle of the scholarly information. "Within a year of its release Google Scholar has led more visitors to many biomedical journal websites than has PubMed (J Sack, personal communication, 2005). Once they discover it, many medical students and doctors prefer Google Scholar."

Google and Google Scholar have their drawbacks as Giustini and others illustrate. Scholar is just as secretive as it's parent, Google. Researchers have no idea what is in the "scholarly" database and whether true academic articles are being plucked up by the search engine. We also don't know how often Google Scholar updates itself. As Rita Vine of SiteLines mentions in her post, Google Scholar is a Full Year Late Indexing PubMed Content, Google Scholar is missing up to a full year worth of material and "No serious researcher interested in current medical information or practice excellence should rely on Google Scholar for up to date information." (FYI Krafty performed Rita's search and found that Google Scholar is now missing 1,143,648 PubMed citations. That is over 1 million citations missing!)

Giustini notes Google Scholar may be good for "serendipitous discovery, not for literature reviews," but it can be helpful when used in conjunction with other resources such as PubMed, Cochrane, UpToDate, or a "good medical librarian."

How do you see society changing to a Googling society? What are the benefits and limitations and how can we exploit them to our (librarians, doctors, educators, etc.) advantage to grow our services and knowledge. I don't think Google will cause the extinction of our professions as a whole, but it will definitely require our professions to evolve. As our professions evolve there will be those individuals who can not or simply will not evolve and they will fall prey to the Google and future technologies.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

ARL Publishes Health Sciences Library Statistics for 2003–04

Yesterday the ResourceShelf mentioned that the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has published the ARL Academic Health Sciences Library Statistics 2003–04. It includes information on collections, expenditures, personnel, and services in 66 medical libraries at ARL member institutions throughout North America.

According to the ARL, "the reporting health sciences libraries held a median of 235,225 volumes, had total expenditures of $224,697,410, and employed 2,550 FTE staff. Expenditures for materials and staff accounted for the bulk of total expenditures, at 43% each. Respondents reported spending a total of $34,135,193 for electronic materials, or a median of 36% of their total materials budgets; this includes a total of $32,473,238 for electronic serials."

For more information or to download copies go to:

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

VisualDx a Visual Diagnosis Tool

I found a little article in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, Logical Images databases garner national attention, about the use of VisualDx, a visual diganostic tool. VisualDx "allows doctors who don't specialize in dermatology to take an unfamiliar skin abnormality and use the image database and a number of search criteria to diagnose a condition at hand."

VisualDx is produced by Logical Images, a private Rochester company founded in 1996 by Dr. Art Papier, a dermatologist who is an associate professor at the University of Rochester medical school.

It contains over 10,000 photographed medical images of 600 conditions allowing the physician to differential diagnosis and visual comparison of diseases. "Unlike any medical atlas or online source, VisualDx does not require the clinician to search by diagnosis name." Physicians can enter the patient's clinical features to view the diagnoses with the most relevance. Searches can be by single or multiple clinical findings such as: Morphology, Distribution, Symptoms, Signs, Medications, Exposures, Occupation, Medical history, Travel, etc.

Currently VisualDx is only available through an institional subscription and pricing is based on the number of users, the number of installations, the combination of desired modules and the time period of the license.
Institutions have three types of access options:
1. Standalone-Individual PCs
2. ASP-Application hosted by Logical Images, accessed over the Internet by client software on your users' PCs
3.Web Server-Application hosted on your server, accessed over your intranet by client software on your users' PCs

VisualDx is licensed by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for use by its bioterrorism response and vaccination teams. The U.S. Army has installed it nationwide at 32 locations and the New York City Department of Health made VisualDx available over 40,000 doctors through Health Alert Network.

It sounds to be a promising database. I would be interested in hearing opinions from other librarians or physicians whose institutions subscribe to it.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Skyscape Announces to Provide Cochrane Reviews for PDAs

If you or someone you love got a new PDA for the holidays your are in luck, Skyscape just announced a partnership with Wiley to release "CochraneReviews" titles, specifically for Palm and PocketPC enabled PDAs and smart phones.

Cochrane Reviews titlesare available for $29.95 each at
A free trial version is also available for download, if you want to try before you buy.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Happy Holidays

Have a very happy and safe holidays.
I will resume posting Tuesday.

Web 2.0

You keep hearing the phrase Web 2.0, but really what does it mean? Well here is a interesting article that gives you an idea of what it is.

Web 2.0 Arrives
Software upgrades promise to turn the Internet into a lush rain forest of information teeming with new life
By Steven Johnson
DISCOVER Vol. 26 No. 10 October 2005

"The result is the equivalent of a massive software upgrade for the entire
Web, what some commentators have taken to calling Web 2.0. Essentially,
the Web is shifting from an international library of interlinked pages to
an information ecosystem, where data circulate like nutrients in a rain

It explains how the "old" idea of simply following links on a web page (Web 1.0) is being transformed to a dynamic social web (Web 2.0) with new programs and technologies such as news feeds, blogging, Technorati, and social tagging ( The once static page containing links has evolved into a ever changing information explosion.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Free Library Webinar Conference on Weblogs and Libraries

(from ALA TechSource Blog)

"Weblogs & Libraries"
Weds., February 15, 2006
8 - 9 am Pacific
9-10 am MST
10-11 am CST
11-noon EST
Presented by Michael Stephens

Sirsi Dynix sponsoring a free one-hour webinar (February 15th, 8-9am PST): "Weblogs and Libraries" presented by Michael Stephens author of "Tame the Web" blog.

Weblogs have become a standard content management and communication tool
for many libraries. There are conversations taking place every day in library-sponsored blogspace. Librarians can create content easily and effectively and build communities for their users.

Where do we go from here? What does the next generation of library blog
look like? What about the Blog people, librarians who write weblogs for sharing,
knowledge exchange, and community. This presentation will examine the blogs and
the bloggers and point to the future of the medium.
To register for the webinar go to:

If you unfortunately have to miss the webinar or you are just discovering this post and it is long past the date, Sirsi Dynix has archived webinars from 2003 that you can browse through and watch.

Library Groups Praise CURES Bill

(from OA Librarian)
Five library groups; The American Association of Law Libraries, American Library Association, Association of Research Libraries, Medical Library Association, and the Special Libraries Association issued a Press Release praising the CURES Bill. The bill includes a provision making taxpayer-funded biomedical research available to all potential users.

Open Access News has helpful Excerpt by Peter Suber.

Here is the portion explaining what the bill is designed to do:

Among the requirements of the bill is the establishment of free public access
to articles stemming from research funded by agencies of the Department of
Health and Human Services (DHHS), including NIH, the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Under the
proposed legislation, articles published in a peer-reviewed journal would be
required to be made publicly available within months via NIH's popular PubMed
Central online digital archive. The groups note that although some final
electronic manuscripts are made available now on PubMed, many are not—and delays in posting research on PubMed sometimes stall public access to important
articles for up to a year. "Depriving researchers and members of the public of
the findings of research funded by taxpayers is not only wrong, it can also slow
down the discovery of new and improved treatment for diseases," said Miriam
Nisbet, a spokesperson for the library coalition.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Is LinkOut Necessary?

The nn/lm scr blog directed my attention to the article Is LinkOut Necessary? When Link Resolvers Collide, By Denise O’Shea in the Middle Atlantic Perspective Newsletter.

"More and more libraries are signing up for LinkOut every day. However, a few LinkOut libraries within our region have also implemented Outside Tools such as SFX and other OpenURL-based services. Now, with an Outside Tool in place they may wonder if LinkOut is necessary and may actually consider deleting their LinkOut accounts. This article looks at the benefits of keeping LinkOut and compares and contrasts it with the Outside Tool."

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Google Newsletter for Librarians

The first Google Newsletter for Librarians was published (Dec 2005) . "This newsletter was conceived at the 2005 ALA conference in Chicago , where Google hosted a booth in the exhibit hall. We spent three days chatting with librarians about Google: what you liked, what you didn't like, and where you saw opportunities to work together to help people find useful, relevant information." Future issues will feature articles contributed by librarians and library supporters, links to library-related web sites, and updates on Google products and services that can help you in your work.

This first issue focuses on one of the most frequent questions Google receives from librarians: How does Google index the web and how does it rank the results? This issue explains the basics of indexing and their page ranking algorithms.

Google invites librarians to send in their Google thoughts, questions, article suggestions and stories of how librarians use and keep up with technology on the job.

Read the December 2005 newsletter on indexing and page ranking at:

If you wish to sign up for the quarterly newsletter go to:

If you wisht to contact Google with suggestions regarding the newsletter mail:
mailto:[email protected]

Elsevier to Preserve E-Journals

Elsevier announced that Portico (a non-profit electronic archiving service) will be an official e-journal archive for the company. Over 2,100 current and formerly published journals on Elsevier's ScienceDirect service are preserved in a permanent archive.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Touch User Interface Links Podcasts To Printed Text

Somatic Digital LLC has developed technology that allows publishers integrate podcasts into their books, magazines, and other printed texts. The product uses Bluetooth technology so when the reader presses a picture on the page of the book a podcast is beamed to the reader’s computer or download to an MP3 player. Thus the podcast would serve as a supplement to the book.

Think of the possibilites that could have on all sorts of text books. This is just the first step, I am guessing you could do the same with videos. For example you pick up Sabiston's Textbook of Surgery and you press the podcast picture to download a video podcast detailing a surgical procedure.

Biological Properties of Small Molecules and PubChem

"Elsevier MDL today announced an agreement with the National Institute of Health (NIH) to contribute to the NIH effort to catalog information on the biological properties of small molecules in its freely available PubChem database. Elsevier MDL will enrich the growing PubChem resource for the scientific community by furnishing chemical structures from Elsevier's xPharm database, giving scientists with an xPharm license the ability to move from biological data in PubChem to more focused pharmacology data in xPharm that is essential to drug research."

For more information go to:

Friday, December 16, 2005

Medical Billing Codes Database Available Online

Medical Billing Codes (Available online only)
CPT and HCPCS Medical Codes. "This database contains a complete listing of CPT codes (Current Procedural Terminology) and HCPCS codes (Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System). This database is fully searchable by code, description, type or category."
(from ResourceShelf)

Pandemic Flu E-Learning Tool For Doctors

In the UK the Health Protection Agency developed an online training course for doctors to learn more about the signs, symptoms, and treatment of the bird flu. Doctors can sign up for the online course at The online course presents doctors with mock cases of patients who my typically show up to their practice. Physicians must correctly diagnose each patient and decide on appropriate actions and treatment.

According to Pat Troop, Chief Executive of The Health Protection Agency, "GPs are often the first point of contact for patients who have flu-like symptoms or who are concerned about flu. That is why it is vital that they have the confidence and information to address patients' concerns about bird and pandemic flu as well as being able to spot the signs of H5N1 in humans or a future pandemic strain of flu once it emerges."

Wikipedia as accurate as Britannica

Journal: Wikipedia as accurate as Britannica
Nature study covered side-by-side comparison of scientific topics Thursday, December 15, 2005; Posted: 10:28 a.m. EST (15:28 GMT)

"Wikipedia, the encyclopedia that relies on volunteers to pen nearly 4 million articles, is about as accurate in covering scientific topics as Encyclopedia Britannica, the journal Nature wrote in an online article published Wednesday."

My hunch is that the term wiki probably gave term podcast a run for its money when the New Oxford American Dictionary was voting on the Word of the Year. It seems everywhere I look there is something about wikipedia or other wiki things. The Chronical of Higher Education has a news article on a proposal to the create a Wikiversity, an open electronic institution of learning.

I have been always been a little leery about using Wikipedia for any real research. My use of Wikipedia has been mainly for the settling of bar bets and movie trivia. The idea of a student using Wikipedia as a resource homework, research papers, and other school work gives a small case of the willies. What positively frightens me is when I hear medical students looking up medical definitions and information on Wikipedia.

Maybe my fears are misplaced. According to a special report in Nature v.438 p. 900-901 December 15, 2005, Internet encyclopaedias go head to head (full text to subscribers only), Nature sent entries (on a broad range of scientific disciplines) from both Wikipedia and Britannica to experts for peer review. Reviewers did not know which entry came from which product. Reviewers found eight "serious errors," four from each encyclopedia. Reviewers did find many other factual errors such as omissions and misleading statements. Wikipedia had 162 factual errors and Britannica had 123.

Hmm, it seems that Wikipedia and Britannica are on pretty equal ground. One would assume would be a huge boost to Wikipedia and a huge downer to Britannica. Both Wikipedia and Britannica are looking at ways to improve their accuracy. Wikipedia plans to begin testing a new way to review the accuracy of its articles. Britannica researchers plan to review the Nature study and correct any errors discovered.

Perhaps some of my fears about Wikipedia's accuracy were a little misplaced, but think I will take a note from the editorial in Nature v.438 p. 890 December 15, 2005, Wiki's wild world (full text to subscribers only), and still read Wikipedia entries cautiously and amend them enthusiastically.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Primary Research Group Publishes New Study on Serials Management

Primary Research Group Publishes New Study on Serials Management: Prevailing & Best Practices in Electronic & Print Serials Management. Price: $80

"The report examines management of both electronic and print serials and includes discussions of the following issues: selection and management of serials agents, including the negotiation of payment; allocation of the serials budget by department; resolution of access issues with publishers; use of consortiums in journal licensing; invoice reconciliation and payment; periodicals binding, claims, check-in, and management; serials department staff size and range of responsibilities; serials management software; use of open access archives and university depositories; policies on gift subscriptions, free trials, and academic exchanges of publications; use of electronic serials/catalog linking technology; acquisition of usage statistics; cooperative arrangements with other local libraries; and other issues in serials management."

The study looked at eleven libraries: The University of Ohio, Villanova University, the Colorado School of Mines, Carleton College, Northwestern University, Baylor University, Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, The University of San Francisco, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Here are some of the findings:

Subscription Agents:
There was little agreement between libraries on the number of agents, contracts, price, and performance. In general larger libraries seemed less satisfied with their agents while smaller libraries seemed more satisfied. Because contracts are not as standardized as originally thought, negotiating skills are important for achieving the best prices in results.

Spending Trends:
The increase in journal prices, the decline in print, increase in electronic access, and increasingly tight budgets place libraries in a unique environment requiring "a great deal of explanation and diplomacy." Communication is the key. Those librarians who have effectively communicated nature of the situation to their users and their institutions are also the librarians who seem to be dealing best with the situation.
The change from print to electronic will continue and one of the main issues is for librarians and users willingness to go without the print. The willingness tends to vary by field and institution type.

Serials Budget:
"Strict formulas for allocating the library budget across departments seem to have been abandoned by most study participants. Historic tradition is probably the biggest determinant of future levels of support for specific academic fields, and most skirmishing appears to take place over funding levels for new or emerging disciplines. Librarians appear to have fewer problems when they have more control over budget allocations than when they have less control, and those that have given up such control tend to want to regain it. "

Electronic Serials Management Software:
Most libraries in the study have purchased or are planning to purchase a electronic serials manager. Compatibility issues are a major concern.

Staffing and Departmental Organization:
Libraries are trying to deal with the rapid emergence of electronic journals. Librarians time is quickly consumed as they work with purchasing, isntalling, tracking, policing, text linking, and access instruction (particularly within database collections). Some libraries have seperated the electronic side of things from the print side of things while other libraries feel that is an artificial separation leading to the duplication of services.
(krafty librarian note: I have worked at a library that once separated the electronic journals and print journal duties among two librarians. The reason that this happened was that it was an evolution from the early days of electronic journals. In the beginning there were only a few electronic journals and it was decided that the web geek (me) would work with them since I did everything web related. Eventually as more and more serials went electronic, I grew to become an accidental serials librarian.)

Gift Subscriptions and Academic Exchanges:
These are now playing less and less of a role and are viewed as "not worth the trouble."

Subscription Agents Handling Electronic Journal Subscriptions:
There is no consensus on whether to use subscription agents to manage electronic journals. Many libraries seem to prefer saving money and manage their own electronic subscriptions, although the general view is that the agents are getting better at managing them.
(krafty librarian note: In our case, we managed our subscriptions because we had been doing it since the very beginning (when subscription agents weren't doing it at all) and we found that we with careful notes and excel file we had a better handle on what we had electronically and the licensing terms, restrictions, policies, cost, and usage, better than the subscription agents. I remember when one agent told us all of the Clinics of North America were available online to institutions when they were in fact only available online to personal subscribers. (They are available now to institutions.) This mistake caused us lots of time and could have cost us lots of money.)

DynaMed Reviewed in Annals of Family Medicine

An article in the Annals of Family Medicine 3:507-513 (2005) Physicians Answer More Clinical Questions and Change Clinical Decisions More Often With Synthesized Evidence: A Randomized Trial in Primary Care, evaluates DynaMed (Ebsco product) as a clinical decision tool.

As medinfo mentions, it is important to know that the two principle authors of the study Brian S. Alper and David S. White are involved with DynaMed. As the article's footnote indicates: Dr Alper is the founding principal of Dynamic Medical Information Systems, LLC, and the Editor-in-Chief of DynaMed. Dr White was employed by Dynamic Medical Information Systems, LLC, to conduct this research with funds from the National Science Foundation award but has not conducted efforts for or received monies from Dynamic Medical Information Systems, LLC, outside this grant award.

The study primarily looked at DynaMed effectiveness as a clinical decision tool for primary care physicians. In that sense the authors discovered that primary care physicians using DynaMed, were able to answer more questions and they changed clinical decisions more often, without increasing the overall search time.

While it is nice to see another product in the competition, this article only verifies that DynaMed is now a viable clinical decision tool for primary care. In fact the authors state, "Our study design could be adapted by changing allocation parameters to support head-to-head and multiple comparisons. Adding question classification items to data entry and conducting a larger study could allow determination of clinical reference performance specific to question types. That is what I would like to see (as well as other librarians), a comparison of DynaMed, FirstConsult, UpToDate, as well as other clinical decision products.

Let's have a Thunderdome study where many databases enter, but only one leaves. Ok that might be a little dramatic, but my point is let's get a comparison study that appropriately evaluates each product against each other.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Open-source tool to enhance PubMed and Medline searching

(from Open Access News)
J. Ding and four co-authors, PubMed Assistant: a biologist-friendly interface for enhanced PubMed search, Bioinformatics, December 6, 2005.

MEDLINE is one of the most important bibliographical information sources for biologists and medical workers. Its PubMed interface supports Boolean queries, which are potentially expressive and exact. However, PubMed is also designed to support simplicity of use at the expense of query expressiveness and exactness. Many PubMed users have never tried explicit Boolean queries. We developed a Java program, PubMed Assistant, to make literature access easier in several ways. PubMed Assistant provides an interface that efficiently displays information about the citations, and includes useful functions such as keyword highlighting, export to citation managers, clickable links to Google Scholar, and others which are lacking in PubMed. AVAILABILITY: PubMed Assistant and a detailed online manual are freely available [here] under a GPL (GNU General Public License).

UpToDate Interview in Journal of Electronic Resources for Medical Libraries

An interview with UpToDate appears in the Journal of Electronic Resources for Medical Libraries v. 2 (4) 81-92 2005.

I think Elizabeth Connor did a good job asking some of the very questions that many librarians would have asked UpToDate. After reading the interview I have some questions regarding UpToDate's answers. Will anybody from UpToDate read this and respond? Who knows...probably not, but I want to get my thoughts and questions out there.

  1. Regarding the perceived high cost of UpToDate, Connor asks whether libraries need to focus on the price per use, collect more rigorous usage statistics, and participate in group purchasing.

    UpToDate response: "Studies that compared use of various resourses indicated that on a price per use basis UpToDate was the least expensive resource by far, simply because it was used so often."

    Krafty's question:
    When you look at it from the price per use perspective I can see that it can be a very good value. However, it costs even some of the smallest hospitals over $10,000 for access and is quite possibly the most expensive of any single product for that small hospital library. Quite clearly your product is sometimes out of the budget of the library. Given its price and its burden upon library budgets has UpToDate trancended libraries all together and has become more of a hospital product to considered and purchased similar to other system critical hospital programs such as electronic medical record or patient scheduling software? It is appropriate for UpToDate to be even marketing to libraries any more?
    Second, you never answered the last part of the Elizabeth Connor's question regarding group purchasing. So I ask, since you base your price on the number of FTE physicians isn't participating in group purchasing pointless? Do you think this hurts you and don't you think you would get more hospitals signing up if you offered group purchasing?
  2. Conners asks what the future holds for UpToDate, specifically in regards to clinical information systems and handheld technology.

    UpToDate response: "We are currently experimenting with electronic medical records providers as one area where clinical content can combine with patient information to affect patient care."
    "Beyond Pocket PCs, we are actively developing a version of UpToDate that can be installed and used on Plam handhelds. Although it is not widely known, hospitals and practices that have wireless networks can access UpToDate http://www.pda.uptodate (krafty librarian note, that url does not work) for handheld appropriate format, including some Palm handhelds with Web browsers that fully support both HTML and cookies and connect to the Internet. "

    Krafty's questions:
    I realize and understand that because of your competitors you perhaps may be reluctant to divulge too much about your expermintations with electronic medical records. However, could you please go into a little more depth about what plans you might have with integrating UpToDate into the medical record? We already know MDConsult's is looking at integrating customizable formularies and order sets in iConsult to work within the hospital's EMR. Are you working with hospitals as well while creating your EMR component?
    From your answer you it first appeared to me as if you offer institutions access for handheld devices. However, when I called my UpToDate rep today (December 14, 2005) she mentioned that the handheld product was not for institutions but for individuals. She said once our hospital had wireless access, then our doctors who had handheld devices (mainly those with Pocket PCs) could access UpToDate using the hospital's wireless network. In my opinion this type of access is not unlike a person accessing UpToDate from their wireless lap top in the hospital and is not exactly a handheld product. Additionally, whether it is a type o' or not, it is important to know that the URL given in your response does not work. Institutions who have wireless access and have users who want to access UpToDate with their wireless device should go to . When compared to its competitors it appears UpToDate has been very slow to create a cross platform handheld product and institutional access for handheld devices. Why is this the case? Do you think this could impact the popularity of your overall product?

  3. Connors did not ask specifically about institutional access from home, but I would like to know your theories and any statistics you might have supporting your policies and charges for institutional access. One of the major complaints libraries and hospitals have with UpToDate is regarding home access for institutional subscribers. Do you have any statistics specifically showing that you would lose individual sales if you provided institutions with at home access? Do you feel you your policies and prices for home access for institutional users could backfire and cause doctors, hospitals, and librarians to look at your competitors a little more and perhaps choose them over you?

These are just some questions and statements I have regarding UpToDate. The interview with Elizabeth Conner was very interesting and I recommend it to other librarians. I welcome anybody elses thoughts on the subject. Perhaps you can shed some light on some of the issues I ask.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Merck Deleted Data

Merck's Deleted Data
Robert Langreth and Matthew Herper 12.08.05, 8:10 PM ET

"A top editor of The New England Journal of Medicine says that he was stunned to find out that data linking Vioxx to cardiovascular risk was deleted from a major study his journal published five years ago--and that it appears that Merck researchers may have deleted that data." (from the first paragraph)

According to the article, shortly after Merck recalled Vioxx from the market the editors of NEJM discovered a diskette containing earlier versions of the manuscript for the VIGOR trail published in NEJM November 2000. The early versions fo the manuscript contained a blank table entitled "CV events." Time stamps indicaed the data was deleted two days before the manuscript was submitted to NEJM. According to the Dr. Gregory Curfman, executive editor of NEJM, the identity of the person who deleted the table is a mystery. "When you hover the cursor over the editing changes, the identity of the editor pops up, and it just says 'Merck."

The eidtors of NEJM released an editorial on The New England Journal's Web site entitled "Expression of Concern," (10.1056/NEJMe058314)which calls on the VIGOR authors to submit a correction of the 2000 manuscript. "Taken together, these inaccuracies and deletions call into question the integrity of the data on adverse cardiovascular events in this article," it read.

Since I don't write journal articles from research funded by drug companies I am completely naive as to how this works. Must authors submit their research articles to the drug company first prior to submitting it to a journal publisher? That seems a little off to me. But if that is the case, I don't understand how the authors upon reading the final published article in NEJM did not notice that one of their tables on cardiovascular events was missing and contact the journal.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Physicians Find Librarians Vital

Here is some good news to start of your week.

Physicians find librarians vital
By keeping up-to-date on medical advances, they help providers and patients
11:26 AM CST on Sunday, December 11, 2005
By SUSAN KREIMER / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News

First paragraph:

More than one doctor has described a resourceful medical librarian as a best friend.
Dr. William L. Smith, a former Episcopal priest, is director of library services at Methodist Health System, helping physicians such as Dr. Charles C. Tandy and Dr. Peter B. Marcus.
"When a physician needs the latest info on something to help care for, treat, or even save the life of a patient, he often turns to a medical librarian," said Dr. William L. Smith, director of library services at Methodist Health System in Dallas.

Carnival of Infosciences #17

Thank you everyone for your submissions. I was a little nervous Friday when I had only received three submissions. I was afraid we would be operating the Carnival on a snow schedule. But you all came through and we have some great submissions.

So without further adieu....

As you enter the carnival grounds you will see Nicole at What I Learned Today, discussing Reading Comprehension & Blogs. She disagrees with the idea that blogging and Google Book Search lead contribute to poor reading comprehension. If you step up to her booth she will explain how Google Book Search would have helped her in college.

To the left of the cotton candy stand is the DIY Librarian, speaking on Professional Associations and the apparent trend of librarians dropping their professional memberships. Even though she finds belonging to professional associations valuable now and in the future, she wonders if younger librarians feel cybernetworking through social software has taken the place of networking within professional associations.

Next you will find the German medical library booth, medinfo, where they are discussing A nation-wide license for archives of eJournals. The German Research Foundation (DFG) sponsored nation-wide licenses for databases in the humanities, social sciences, and biomedical fields. With nation-wide access to electronic journals, the importance of libraries as gatekeepers of information will change.

Get your tokens or charge up your Power Cards.
Over in the arcade next to the ski-ball you will find Joy from Wanderings of a Student Librarian getting her Game On with a compilation of the highlights from the Gaming in Libraries 2005 conference blog posts.

Also in the arcade next to the Whack-A-Mole is Kelli, the 'Brary Web Diva discussing What's Next from the Gaming, Learning & Libraries Conference. As she leaves the blinking lights of the arcade you can follow her to her tent where she will share her idea to Double your Efforts and create a book blog partnership.

Finally, there is me, your humble host, Cataloging Podcasts attempt to try and determine the best way to collect, organize, and promote quality medical podcasts to my library users.

As you make your way out of the Carnival please stop be sure to take a look at some of the host's picks.
The Dave's Blog and the Librarian In Black speaks about the OCLC report on Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources (2005).
The MaisonBisson tells us that OPAC Web Services Should Be Like Amazon Web Services.
The Professional Lurker discusses Scholarly publishing in the age of distributed content.
T. Scott thinks we shouldn't be settling for Library 2.0 we should be Library 5.0

As you exit the carnival grounds please remember the next carnival date is Monday, December 19, 2005, hosted at Clam Chowder.

There will be NO carnival Monday December 26, 2005 and January 2, 2006.

The carnival will resume traveling Monday, January 9, 2006, at Wanderings of a Student Librarian.

The Carnival of Infosciences Schedule can be found at

Friday, December 09, 2005

Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources

OCLC's new report, Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources, includes findings from an international study of library use and information-seeking habits and preferences. The report is an effort to learn more about library use, awareness and use of library electronic resources, usage of search engines vs. librarians, free vs. fee information, and the "Library" brand. The report is big (290 pages) and can be found at

I am still browsing through the report, but as the Librarian In Black and the Free Range Librarian mentioned it would have been nice if the report was in HTML as well.

"The goal of the report was first to inform OCLC's key decision makers to guide them in strategic planning and later to serve as a reference document for librarians as they work on strategic planning for their institutions and communities."

According to the Introduction:

"The findings presented in this report do not surprise, they confirm. During the hundreds of Scan discussions and meetings held over the past 24 months, several recurring themes surfaced. 'Users are not aware of the electronic resources libraries make freely available.' Our survey findings bear this out. 'Users are as comfortable using Web information sources as library sources.' Our study shows this perception also to be true, across countries, across U.S. age groups, across library card holders and non-card holders. 'The library brand is dated.' Again, our survey findings do not surprise, they confirm."

"Trends toward increased information self-service and seamlessness are clearly evident in the survey results. Libraries' mindshare in this new self-service e-resource environment is also clear: behind newer entrants. Libraries’ continued importance as a trusted information provider is evident and, overall, users have positive, if outdated, views of the 'Library.' Our collective challenge is, therefore, to take this information—both the positive and the challenging—and evaluate where to invest more, invest less, invent new and invert old, communicate more and market better.'

So let's look at some of the things the report found: (From the Conclusion)

  • Respondents use search engines to begin an information search (84 percent). One percent begin an information search on a library web site.
  • Quality and quantity of information are top determinants of satisfactory information search. Search engines are rated higher than librarians.
  • The criterion selected by most informaticonsumersers to evaluate electronic resources is that the information is worthwhile. Free is a close second. Speed has less impact.
  • Respondents do not trust purchased information more than free information. The verbatim comments suggest a high expectation of free information.
  • Library users like to self-serve. Most respondents do not seek assistance when using library resources.
  • Library card holders use information resources more than non-card holders, and they are more favorably disposed to libraries than non-card holders.
  • Information consumers use the library. They use the library less and read less since they began using the Internet. The majority of respondents anticipate their usage of libraries will be flat in the future.
  • Borrowing print books is the library services used most.
  • "Books" is the library brand. There is no runner-up.
  • Most information consumers are not aware of, nor do they use, most libraries' electronic information resources.
  • College students have the highest rate of library use and the broadest use of library resources, both physical and electronic.
  • Only 10 percent of college students indicated that their library's collection fulfilled their information needs after accessing the library Web site from a search engine.
  • The majority of information consumers are aware of many library community services and of the role the library plays in the larger community. Most respondents agree the library is a place to learn.
  • Information consumers like to self-serve. They use personal knowledge and common sense to judge if electroninformationton is trustworthy. The cross-reference other sites to validate their findings.
  • Ninety percent of respondents are satisfied with their most recent search for information using a search engine. Satisfaction with the overall search experience has a strong correlation to the quality and quantity of information returned in the search process.
  • People trust what they find using search engines. They also trust information from libraries. They trust them about the same.
  • Search engines fit the information consumer's lifestyle better than physical or online libraries. The majority of U.S. Respondents, age 14 to 64 see search engines as a perfect fit.

UGH, so that is a great way to start off a weekend. Basically the introduction to the report is exactly right, the results are not a surprise they just merely confirm what we (librarians) have feared but in some ways knew.

I see some of these user attitudes at my library and at the one I used to work at.

At my previous library, we had many users who knew about and used the library's resources, but it was a giant institution and we probably had just as many users who had no clue. My current library was without an adequate web presence (library intranet page) and adequate online resources (online catalog, electronic journals) for so long prior to my employment. It has been a real struggle since I started working here and creating these things to get my users to think about the library online.

Then you have the people who come to the hospital library only when their 6th grade child needs to do a report for health class on some sort of medical condition. I don't want to discourage them frcominging to the library, but my library clearly does not have the resources for a 6th graders health report.

Search engines rule the world (in a way). I recently heard of one of our program heads who would tell his interns, residents, and students to go look it up on Google when they were faced with a medical question. Ironically this program head is a big proponent of the library and is often in my libramultipleple times a day. We joke that this is his second office. He knewexistedted, he has used me for many things, but on the floors when you can't leave and rushed for time, it was simply easier for him to look it up on Google.

So what are we to do? Obviously the status quo is not the answer. We didn't get this way in our users minds in one day. It took a while, so it is going to take a while to get us out of this mess and there is no avoiding it.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Carnival of Infosciences....Reminder

Just to remind everyone as it gets closer to the end of the week that submissions for the next Carnival of Infosciences are due Sunday (December 11, 2005) 7pm (easter standard time). Send them to mak1173[at]yahoo[dot]com and please include Carnival of Infosciences in the subject line.

So far I have only one submission. Please we do not want the carnival to be snowed out this comming week.

Google Librarian

The Distant Librarian has directed me to a new site, The Google Librarian.

"Google Librarian is the ultimate guide to Google made especially for Librarians and information professionals. We understand that your quest for information is not limited to books, and extends to electronic media. Google Librarian was created to help you - the librarian - master the art of online searching and harness the infinite power of Google and its services. We provide you with tips, tricks, strategies, lesson plans, tutorials, and easy to understand explanations to make your Google experience the best. As an added bonus, we will also track Google development and keep you up-to-date with the latest Google innovations." -(from the Google Librarian)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Cataloging Podcasts?

Ok I truely believe that libraries can really use and help disseminate the great podcasts that are out there. Finding them and knowing how to showcase them are some of the many hurdles I am trying to figure out.

Finding medical podcasts from reliable sources/authors is somewhat frustrating. Searching iTunes for medical podcasts can be an exercise in patience because the topics are so broad. There are no subtopics under Health, so the searcher has to plow through things like "A Moment in Yoga," "A Dieter's Life," "Vegan Radio," and all sorts of questionable podcasts relating to sex, just to get to things like "Johns Hopkins Medicine Weekly News," "Mayo Clinic Medical Edge Radio," or "SCCM Podcast iCritical Care." Equally frustrating is there seems to be no rhyme or reason as to what gets into the Health category vs. the Science Category. NEJM is in the Science category.

I also want to make the list of medical podcasts available to my users. What is the best method? Should I put them on the library's intranet page, the catalog, both places, or somewhere else? I made a an intranet page listing the podcasts, but I also wanted to integrate them into the catalog. I am not a cataloger, so the idea of putting podcasts in my catalog is a little bit of a conundrum for me. I have been listing them as a serial since publishers/podcasters broadcast multiple volumes/programs per year. But cataloging them as serials completely loses each program's title and subject which is very important. So should I catalog each program individually and not the whole podcast as a serial?! That would be time consuming. Of course it would be much easier if there was a medical podcast database, kind of like MEDLINE for podcasts, but since that isn't available what are my options?

Currently medical journal publishers like NEJM, Nature, SCCM, and the Journal of Medical Practice Management are podcasting. I realize the medium is still in its infancy but should this be something the NLM should be keeping their eye on to include in MEDLINE? I realize some of the health science databases used index Audio Digest programs. Should some medical database such as CINAHL or MEDLINE index these programs or should there be a newly created medical database. I don't know.

In the mean time I am looking at all ways that librarians are cataloging/collecting/profiling podcasts for their users. Are you doing it? Why or why not? How are you doing it? What are your obstacles?

Nature Publishing Has Blogs

I just read in Library Stuff that Nature Research Journals and Web Publishing have recently launched three blogs:
1) Action Potential - "Action Potential is a blog by the editors of Nature Neuroscience - and a forum for our readers, authors and the entire neuroscience community. We'll discuss what's new and exciting in neuroscience, be it in our journal or elsewhere."
2) Free Association - "Welcome to Free Association, the Nature Genetics blog. Check here regularly for links and editorial comment on research and news in genetics, as well as reader feedback."
3) Nascent - "Nature Publishing Group's blog on web technology and science."

Nature Publishing is also podcasting as well. So far it looks like they do four podcasts a month (one per week).
Here is a list of their podcast programs.
  • 01 December 2005: Touch down on Titan, the giant water scorpion, Ebola virus hunters, stem-cell controversies, and chilling news on the Gulf Stream.
  • 24 November 2005: Pharaoh ant highway codes, high temperature super conductors, body-snatching tunicates, the E. coli camera, mosquito bites, and touching base with the latest product from Google.
  • 17 November 2005: fresh water and climate change, komodo dragons, typhoid Mary disease carriers, chaos and cryptography, and the latest from the intelligent design trials in the USA.
  • 10 November 2005: a new biodiesel fuel, avoiding cosmic collisions, how insects measure day length, and the latest news from Nature
  • 02 November 2005: malaria, photonics, volcanoes, algal nutrition, and flying through the eye of Hurricane Rita
  • 26 October 2005: HapMap and human genetics, Saturn's rings, sharks, and the missives of Darwin and Einstein
  • 19 October 2005: stem cells, semiconductors, the chimp genome and swimming rats
  • 12 October 2005: satellites, comets, Hobbits and ancient noodles
  • 5 October 2005: Spanish and avian flu pandemics, earthquakes, gamma ray bursts and bees behaving badly

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

General Medical Council Suspends Doctor for False Research Claims

In my July 11, 2005 post, Faked Research on the Rise, I mentioned the issue of academic medical researchers falsifying data and plagiarizing work in the medical literature. There were numerous cases of misconduct, plagiarism, falsifying research to win grants, falsifying data, including one doctor who actually went into patients charts and fraudulently added data to support the made up data in his article.

According to a study in the June 9, 2005 Nature the problem is still relatively small, "about 1.5 percent of 3,247 researchers who responded admitted to falsification or plagiarism." However, "one in three admitted to some type of professional misbehavior," which is very disturbing.

The blog, Browsing now directs our attention to a BMJ (Dec. 3, 2005) news article about the General Medical Council (GMC) suspending a doctor for false research claims. Ranjit Sinharay forged the signatures of two colleagues and falsely claimed authorship of research in which he had played no part and submitted to the Postgraduate Medical Journal. He was suspended for three months by the GMC last week.

Carnival of Infosciences

Unfortunately this week' Carnival of Infoscience was rained out. It was supposed to be hosted at the Tinfoil + Raccoon but she only received 2 submissions. I am hosting the next Carnival, so please send your submissions to me by Sunday Dec. 11, 2005 at 7pm est. Submission guidelines and the schedule for future carnivals can be found at

Send submissions to mak1173[at]yahoo[dot]com. Please mention the Carnival in the subject line. Let's not have any more rain outs.

Monday, December 05, 2005

MLA 2005 Salary Survey Available

(forwarded from MLA-Focus)
Hay Group/MLA 2005 Salary Survey is Available
The survey was conducted in 2005 using salary data effective January 1, 2005, the Hay Group/MLA 2005 Salary Survey includes results from 612 respondents and offers a detailed analysis of medical librarian salaries by geographic region, job type, institution type, and experience levels. Additional data from proprietary Hay Group studies are included to compare medical librarians' salaries with salaries of other jobs of similar size.

A freely accessible executive summary is available on MLANET. The full report, available for sale in both print and electronic (Adobe PDF) formats, can be ordered through the MLANET Online Store.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Ovid's Resource of the Month...Ageline

Ovid's Resource of the Month for December is Ageline. AgeLine is a bibliographic database on the rapidly growing field of aging. With references from both academic and general publications, AgeLine contains indexes and abstracts of books, journals, research reports, consumer guides and book chapters. The references in AgeLine come from the gerontology collection of AARP's Research Information Center, as well as selected articles from 300 magazines and journals, research reports, and descriptions of videos. AgeLine would be good database for finding information for researchers, service providers, policymakers, care givers and the general public on topics such as government sponsored programs for elders, healthcare costs and settings, housing, demography, elder care, financial and retirement planning, self-help, and fitness.

Try it now on Ovid!

Learn more about Ageline on Ovid

Thursday, December 01, 2005

New Weblog...OA Librarian

(forwarded from Medlib-l)
The OA Librarian is a new, cooperatively produced weblog, which combines a
pathfinder function with news and commentary on open access and librarianship.

Under OA Resources on the right-hand side of the page, you’ll find links to
free open access resources in Library and Information Science: the LIS journals
listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals, and two open archives for LIS:
E-LIS and D-LIST. There are also links to bibliographies and advocacy tools.

Postings vary widely: news items pertinent to librarians, relevant conference
presentations, and other blogs or resources about open access developed by

One theme of OA Librarian is highlighting the work of OA librarian advocates.
Thus far we have focused on Antonella de Robbio, the originator of E-LIS; Anita
Coleman, the driving force behind DLIST; and Charles W. Bailey, Jr., the author
of the Open Access Bibliography: Liberating Scholarly Literature with E-Prints
and Open Access Journals.

Blog team members are:
1. Marcus Banks, New York University School of Medicine
2. Anita Coleman, University of Arizona School of Information Resources &
Library Science:
3. Lesley Perkins, Blogmaster
4. Andrew Waller, University of Calgary
5. Heather G. Morrison, British Columbia Electronic Library Network:

Learn More About Podcasting From OPAL

OPAL (Online Programming for All Libraries) is hosting a one hour online program providing an introduction to podcasting.
When: Thursday, December 8
2:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time
1:00 p.m. Central, noon Mountain
11:00 a.m. Pacific
7:00 p.m. GMT

Cost: FREE! No registration required.

The URL to enter the online room is

"Podcasting, an exciting new model for distributing audio content, is generating buzz across the Internet. But what is it exactly? And why should librarians care? We'll discuss the hows and whys of podcasting, including how to tune in, how to find interesting content and how your organization can take advantage of this powerful technology to reach more people in your community. Presented by Greg Schwartz, by day the Circulation Support Supervisor for the Louisville Free Public Library and by night a husband, father, and blogger and podcaster extraordinaire of Open Stacks.

For those of you who can't participate in the live online event, it will be available in the OPAL archive, and the MP3 version of the audiorecording will be distributed as an OPAL podcast

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The Krafty Librarian has been a medical librarian since 1998. She is currently the medical librarian for a hospital system in Ohio. You can email her at: