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Friday, 30th October 2009

NIH Library Begins Beta Test of Metasearch Tool

Think metasearch with the beta release of the NIH Library AllPlus Search Demo.

In a single search click you're able to retrieve results from PubMed, MedlinePlus, and the NIH Library Catalog. You can also personalize the search by selecting which databases you want to search. Look for the "select sources" box located directly next to the search button. To the left of the search box is a drop down menu where you can select searches limited to keywords, title, or author.

After you click search and before the results appear you'll see each database being tapped with the number of records retrieved.

Here's are search results for H1N1

Results pages contain a great deal of info and appear a bit busy making it a small challenge to actually find the search results. But that's why this is a beta.

+ At the top of the results page is "Explore and Discover" offers related terms that are hyperlinked.

+ Below "Explore and Discover" are the numerical totals of how many results were retrieved by the engine

+ In the left margin are what appears to be dynamically generated categories that allow you to focus your search and potentially find relationships that could not be seen reviewing one result at a time. Categories can be sorted by topics, source, or topics graph. Selecting the topics graph opens a new window and provides (we think? Topics Graph did not work when we tried it) a visualized view of the categories).

+ In the middle column are the actual search results with the database source listed below the snippet. At the top of the results column a drop down menu let's you sort results by relevance or date. What does date mean? The day the page was created? The day the page was first crawled? The date it was last updated? The date the page was last crawled? You'll also notice a magnifying glass icon next to the title of each result. Click it and a box will appear with the actual page you want to view. In other words, you never leave the results page.

+ The third column contains hypertext links to other databases (Worldcat.org; USA.gov; PubMed Central and many others) and the number of results they contain for your search term. Click and run the search in the selected database. So, in reality, AllPlus Search allows you to quickly find results from more than three databases. Results from Ask, Google, and Yahoo are also available here.

Finally, for our H1N1 search you'll find images (from Google Images) in the fourth column.
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At this point, we were unable to find any search documentation or help pages.

This is an early beta that we will check often for changes and updates. Many of the issues are aesthetic rather than technical.

We've learned that the technology that powers AllPlus search comes from HealthMash (federated search and clustering) from WebLib. It also utilizes the new HealthMash Knowledge Base. This technology, also from WebLib, powers the "Explore and Discover" related terms at the top of all results pages.

Here's a January, 2009 interview that Hope Lehman from AltSearchEngines did with Weblib CEO, Endre Jofoldi.

Access the NIH Library AllPlus Search Demo

Source: NIH Library Blog
Hat Tip: Charles Knight, AltSearchEngines

UPDATE: The All-Plus search beta now allows you to decide via links on the home page which type of data or format your looking for before entering search terms and clicking search.

+ Basic Search
+ News
+ Video Evidence-based Medicine
+ Academic Web
+ Alternative Medicine
+ Animal Studies
+ Drugs and Chemicals
+ Search Engines (Lets the searcher quickly identify the number of results in each database), somewhat similar to DIALINDEX (File 411)
+ Images
+ Consumer Health


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