Thursday, 8th June 2006
Resource of the Week: New Federated Search Database Focuses on Enviro Health and Toxicology
Resource of the Week
By Shirl Kennedy, Deputy Editor
If you're a librarian...or maybe even if you're not, you may be familiar with S.R. Ranganathan, who is often called "the father of library science." His "Five Laws of Library Science" are familiar to most of us who work in this field:
1. Books are for use.
2. Every reader his or her book.
3. Every book its reader.
4. Save the time of the reader.
5. The Library is a growing organism.
Even if you think "outside the book" about online research today, Ranganathan's Laws still apply -- especially number 4, which could also mean "Save the time of the searcher." If you're a little unclear on the concept, this week's resource, which takes advantage of federated searching, is an excellent proof-of-concept.
Toxicology and Environmental Health--Metasearch
Source: National Library of Medicine
So, what is federated searching? Says EDUCAUSE:
"Federated Search is a search system that allows you to search for documents from multiple (partner) collections, instead of having to search each one separately. You benefit by performing one search and getting integrated results at once. These search engines can search not only library catalog but also commercial abstracting and indexing databases, web search engines, and a variety of other databases, while often merging and de-duplicating (a.k.a. de-duping) results."
ToxSeek allows federated searching of "diverse biomedical and environmental health resources...on topics related to toxicology and environmental health." This includes a wide range of databases from:
+ The National Library of Medicine's TOXNET
+ Other NLM databases such as Medline Plus, ClinicalTrials.gov, and PubMed
+ Resources from the National institutes of Health
+ Databases from other U.S. government agencies, such as the U.S. Department
of Agriculture, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the
Department of Energy, the Department of Labor, the Environmental Protection
Agency, the Food and Drug Administration
+ Databases from international agencies such as the World Health
Organization and the International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS)
+ Resources from miscellaneous agencies , such as the American Chemical
Society, the Air and Waste Management Association, and the National Safety
ToxSeek's gloriously simple home page lists all the options; you can select as many or as few as you want via checkboxes. Some of these resources may be completely new to you; fortunately, the name of each one is a live link to the individual resource's home page, so you can actually easily click and become familiar with what you are searching.
But, as they say on the late night infomercials, "That's not all!" ToxSeek presents its results as "clusters," that help you "more easily identify particular concepts." The clusters are based on "what is retrieved in the original query, and can be useful in uncovering a specific concept or focus for more in-depth searching."
Our especially devoted ResourceShelf readers may be note that this is the third science-and-techonology federated search tool we've mentioned here lately. You may also want to take a look at Heriot-Watt University's TechXtra, "which can help you find articles, books, the best websites, the latest industry news, job announcements, technical reports, technical data, full text eprints, the latest research, teaching and learning resources and more, in engineering, mathematics and computing"; and PerX, "a pilot subject-based
cross-repository search tool for resource discovery in engineering."
Postscript: Two of the Databases ToxSeek Searches, Have Been Optimized for for Mobile Users
Other NLM Mobile Tools include:
+ NCBI Bookshelf
"Downloadable versions of books from the NCBI Bookshelf for any mobile device."
"Software for Palm Powered or Pocket PC devices to assist first responders in hazardous material incidents."