Opening Doors Exhibit Celebrates Achievements of African American Surgeons

Opening DoorsThe Falk Library is hosting the traveling exhibit “Opening Doors: Contemporary African American Surgeons” from November 1, 2009–January 28, 2010.  This exhibit tells the stories of four pioneering African American surgeons and educators who exemplify excellence in their fields.  Through contemporary and historical images, the exhibition takes the visitor on a journey through the lives and achievements of these academic surgeons, and provides a glimpse into the stories of those that came before them and those that continue the tradition today.  It was developed and produced by the National Library of Medicine and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture.  Stop by the Falk Library and celebrate the contributions of African American academic surgeons to medicine and medical education.  The exhibit will be open during regular library hours.

In honor of this exhibit, there will be a public program titled “The African American Surgeon: A Century of Growth” on November 19, 2009, at 6 p.m., in Scaife Hall, Lecture Room 5.  The presenter will be Frederick D. Cason Jr, MD, Surgeon-in-Chief, Louis Stokes Veterans’ Affairs Medical Center and Associate Professor of Surgery, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

This lecture will be followed by a reception in the Falk Library.  All are welcome!

~ Renae Barger

Google Scholar vs. PubMed for Health Sciences Literature Searching

In the 18 months since I last taught a class about Google Scholar vs. PubMed, Google has become an even more pervasive presence on the Web. Revisiting Scholar in a Google world, how does it stack up against PubMed−no slouch itself thanks to continuing innovations and improvements?

To a searcher accustomed to PubMed’s Lexus engine, Scholar still rides like a go-kart. Search results are delivered in round numbers (“about 127,000”). You can’t limit search results just to articles, so you may puzzle over the kind of item you are looking at (conference paper? book?). With no controlled vocabulary, a searcher must anticipate all the different terms an author might use to articulate a particular concept. And there is no search history, making it harder to repeat and document searches.
The absence of standardized journal names causes inconsistencies. Search PubMed for either Nature Genetics or Nat Genet as journal title, and you retrieve 5,336 articles. In Scholar, Nat Genet as publication title retrieves about 5,630 items—but Nature Genetics retrieves about 10,400.

But Scholar’s biggest drawback is its vague denominator. Only Google knows its total number of records and names and included dates of covered journals. You can limit results to a subject area, but there is no information on how these are defined.

PubMedBy contrast, PubMed’s scope is clearly documented: 17,764,826 records (2009 baseline) from 5,398 journals back to 1949. From its link to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) Journals database, it is easy to determine whether and how far back a journal is covered and its standardized title. Records have a consistent structure (title, author, source, abstract, etc.) and can be fully displayed. With controlled vocabulary MeSH (Medical Subject Headings), you can search concepts, not just keywords. Search for the MeSH concept stomach neoplasms and get articles whose authors use the terms gastric cancer and gastric neoplasms.

Other PubMed tools include Clinical Queries and Single Citation Matcher. The NCBI environment provides links to molecular biology and genetics databases and to NIH’s free PubMed Central repository. Access PubMed through the “Quick Link” on the HSLS home page, and you’ll automatically get full-text links specific to the University of Pittsburgh.

GoogleSo what does Scholar offer that PubMed does not? It isn’t the only product with multidisciplinary coverage (try Web of Science or Scopus). Besides journal articles, Scholar has book, scholarly Web site, and conference proceeding records, but this is not unique either.

Scholar’s biggest plus is that it makes full-text articles completely searchable, letting you dig up details like place or personal names that might not surface in a PubMed search. PubMed records may include a link to full text that your institution subscribes to, but never the full text itself. Other Scholar pluses:

  • Relevance-ranked search results: in PubMed, ranking is by date;
  • Citation data: click on a Cited by link to see citing publications;
  • Scholar’s Bibliography Manager: exports records to EndNote and RefWorks automatically—a manual procedure in PubMed.

The conclusion? Both Scholar and PubMed belong in your search tool box. Scholar is ill-defined, but has useful features and retrieves items not in PubMed. For best results, choose precise search terms and configure Advanced Scholar Search to look for them in article titles. For access to all the full text you’re entitled to, configure Scholar Preferences/Library Links by entering University of Pittsburgh.


  1. Badke W. Google Scholar and the researcher. ONLINE. 33, no. 2(May-Jun 2009):47-9.
  2. Falagas ME, Pitsouni EI, Malietzis GA, Pappas G. Comparison of PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, and Google Scholar: strengths and weaknesses. FASEB Journal. 22, no. 2(Feb 2008):338-42.

~ Patricia Weiss

Director’s Reflections…October is National Medical Librarians Month!

barbaraThe Medical Library Association has declared October as National Medical Librarians Month to raise awareness of the important role of the health information professional.  Medical librarians are an integral part of the healthcare team.  They have a direct impact on the quality of patient care and research by helping users stay current about advances in their specialty areas.  They teach students and healthcare providers how to find and evaluate information, and provide access to resources in a variety of formats.

HSLS includes 24 faculty librarians on its staff, each with at least a master’s degree, and several with second master’s degrees and/or doctoral degrees.  Their responsibilities vary widely: some are in public services such as school liaisons, expert search consultation and instruction.  Others are subject specialists in molecular biology, history of medicine, animal research, and consumer health services.  HSLS librarians also may be specialists in collection development, cataloging, Web management, and computer services.

Stop by the display cases in Falk Library to “Meet Your HSLS Librarians” in October.

Quick Searching Tools & Techniques, Part 1

When you need several articles fast, and you are not concerned with identifying every article on the topic, the following tools and techniques are just what the doctor ordered!

  1. Get your own PubMed MY NCBI account and set up your own search filters. For instance, I frequently search for evidence-based studies.  MY NCBI search filters include:  clinical trials, meta-analysis, practice guidelines, and systematic reviews. Your filters could be set to any number of subject areas including:  nursing, AIDS, cancer, or bioethics.  If you are a pediatrician or geriatrician, you can set your search filters to quickly locate articles on children or the aged.Quick-Search_1
  2. When you locate an article of particular interest in PubMed, don’t forget to use the Related Articles link. The Related Articles link is a quick way to find similar articles to your article of interest. This feature retrieves PubMed citations that are closely related to the article using word-weighted calculations and algorithms. The related articles will be displayed in ranked order from most to least relevant, with the “linked from” citation (your original article) displayed first.
  3. Google Scholar is a quick way to find that hidden article. Google has arrangements with scholarly publishers to query their servers and to take the words from their electronic articles and add them to the Google database.  This gives you the opportunity to search the content of the entire article.  Google Scholar displays the results using the number of times the article was cited in the Google database as a marker of its page rank or relevancy score.


When you find that Google Scholar gem, use Google Scholar’s Related articles link to locate similar articles.

Google Scholar gets it content from many sources, so there can be more than one version of the same article in Google Scholar.  To locate the PubMed abstract for an article, click on All # versions link.  The PubMed record version will have PubMed’s URL “”

For a more detailed comparison of Google Scholar vs. PubMed, see “Google Scholar vs. PubMed for Health Sciences Literature Searching” in this issue.


Look for “Quick Searching Tools & Techniques, Part 2,” in the December issue of the HSLS Update.  For help with these search tips and techniques, contact your Liaison Librarian or Ask A Librarian.

~ Charles Wessel

eTBLAST and Déjà vu: a Text Similarity Search Engine and a Database of Highly Similar Citations

Do you need help finding potential reviewers for your grant or paper? Are you looking for the right journal for submission of your manuscript? Are you are curious about publication activity on your topic of interest or concerned that your published biomedical work was plagiarized?

Thanks to a group from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, these questions can be answered using their Web server, eTBLAST, and affiliated database, Déjà vu.

eTBLASTeTBLAST is a free tool designed to search databases, such as MEDLINE (for literature) and CRISP (for grants), and identify documents similar to your search query. First, users enter entire portions of text (as opposed to just keywords), such as their own manuscripts, the discussion section from a previously published work by colleagues, or the specific aims from a grant proposal. Next, eTBLAST uses natural language processing, keyword weighting, and sentence alignment to output a list of articles or grants ranked by relevance to the original text. The results can be organized to:

  • Find an expert by identifying authors prolific on the query topic;
  • Find a journal by identifying journals that publish extensively on the query topic;
  • View the publication history by supplying information about recent publication activity on the query topic.

DejavuExpanding on the functionality of eTBLAST, Déjà vu is a database of highly similar citations. eTBLAST was calibrated to identify articles from MEDLINE exhibiting similar if not identical text and then store them in Déjà vu for subsequent manual inspection to verify the possibility of plagiarism, redundant publications, or translated articles.

Publications in Déjà vu are organized by a large, flexible classification scheme that delineates between appropriate and inappropriate duplication types: distinct, duplicate, erratum, sanctioned, no abstract, and unverified.

To learn more, read the original articles about eTBLAST and Déjà vu.

~ Carrie Iwema


D-ScholarD-Scholarship@Pitt is an institutional repository for the research output of the University of Pittsburgh.  It provides stable, long-term storage and ongoing maintenance for its content, even after authors have left the university.  Examples of scholarly research materials that can be submitted include:

  • Conference papers and presentations
  • Research data
  • Electronic theses and dissertations
  • Research papers, published or unpublished (Note: copyright agreements for published materials must permit posting in a public Open Access repository.)

Materials are submitted directly by authors with an active University of Pittsburgh Computer Account.

The repository is designed to increase discovery of research by Pitt faculty and staff by allowing indexing by Google and other major Internet search engines, the Pennsylvania Digital Library, and PITTCat+.  D-Scholarship@Pitt is based on Open Access principles; all materials in the repository are freely accessible by the global research community.  Content may be browsed by year, school, research organization or document type.

NIH-funded researchers should note, however, that submission of articles to D-Scholarship@Pitt, does NOT satisfy the NIH public access mandate.  All peer-reviewed journal articles arising from NIH-funded research must be submitted to PubMed Central, regardless of whether they are also submitted to Pitt’s repository. See HSLS Guide to the NIH Public Access Policy for additional information.

D-Scholarship@Pitt is hosted and maintained by Pitt’s University Library System, and open to all University authors.

Parts of this article were reprinted from the D-Scholarship@Pitt Web site.

~ Barbara Epstein

Rare Book Rooms Open to the Public

For the first time in many years, the Falk Library Rare Book Rooms will be open on a regular part-time basis beginning in October. Hours for the fall semester are:

MondaysSm-white-sqSm-white-sq1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
TuesdaysSm-white-sqSm-white-sq10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
WednesdaysSm-white-sq1 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Rotating exhibits will highlight our notable collection of rare books in the areas of medicine, dentistry, nursing, and pharmacy. Included are a rich collection of 19th century books from the former Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic Library and major book collections donated by Dr. Gerald P. Rodnan and Dr. Mark M. Ravitch. The Rodnan collection focuses on rheumatism and gout, while the Ravitch collection emphasizes surgery, especially hernia.

In addition, we will have an online exhibit featuring images from selected rare books. In a display case at the entry to Falk Library, there will be an exhibit of related books from our excellent History of Medicine collection.

Please stop in to examine our displays and to use materials in the collection for your research.

~ Leslie Czechowski Continue reading “Rare Book Rooms Open to the Public”

What You Need to Know About H1N1 Flu

With the start of the new academic year, expectations are that H1N1 Flu cases will rise as faculty and students circulate on University of Pittsburgh campuses. College students, in particular, are a high-risk group for contracting the virus, which can cause mild to severe illness, and occasionally death. Everyone should take precautions to prevent getting or spreading the virus. Stay informed through the HSLS H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu) Web site. The Web site contains current, authoritative information on all aspects of the H1N1 flu. Avoiding this virus and preventing it from spreading should be everyone’s goal.

~ Jill Foust

The Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI)

ctsiThe Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) at the University of Pittsburgh aims to facilitate the translation of biomedical research advances into clinical and public health practice and policy.

To achieve this goal, CTSI is working to integrate existing programs with innovative new clinical and translational science initiatives under a common umbrella and to create an awareness and understanding—initially among members of the biomedical research/health care community but eventually among the general public as well—of the tangible benefits to health practice that can be realized from clinical and translational research.

The University of Pittsburgh’s CTSI is part of a growing nationwide consortium of institutions selected and funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to pioneer a transformation in how research is conducted.

What does this mean to you? CTSI offers institutional resources for clinical and translational research studies.  Some examples of the types of assistance provided include: study design, statistical analysis, and data management; navigation of regulatory requirements and submissions; information technology; community outreach and recruitment of study participants; pilot finding; and various other types of help for research projects (such as inpatient or outpatient clinical research support or core services).

If you need help with your research and don’t know where to turn, you can file a CTSI service request online, by e-mail (, or by phone (412-383-1171 or 412-383-1036).

~ Nancy Tannery

2010 Prices for Electronic Resources–Static or Business-as-Usual?

In our challenging economic environment, libraries are struggling—as are we all—to live within our budget. Our goal at HSLS is to provide access to as much online content as possible. In the past, annual price increases for scholarly journals averaged between 7-10%.  These increases are clearly unaffordable this year.

The publishers and vendors with whom we work have responded to our budget challenges in different ways. Some publishers seem to be unaware of economic problems—or are unwilling to work with their customers in difficult times—and have increased prices for 2010 by 5-15%, or even more. These practices are unacceptable.

But other publishers understand our challenges and have announced they will not increase their prices for 2010. They recognize our users’ need for the articles they publish,  and are cognizant of the unprecedented financial constraints that libraries face.

We commend the following publishers, among others, for freezing their rates for 2010 renewals:

  • American College of Physicians (Annals of Internal Medicine)
  • American Medical Association (JAMA, et al.)
  • American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc. (Amer. Jo. Of Psychiatry, et al.)
  • American Society for Microbiology (Journal of Clinical Microbiology, et al.)
  • Annual Reviews
  • Karger Medical and Scientific Publishers (Pediatric Neurosurgery, et al.)
  • Oxford University Press (Journal of Public Health, et al.)
  • Thieme Publishing Group (Int’l Jo of Sports Medicine, et al.)

We continue to work with other publishers and vendors to provide us with financial relief during this coming year, knowing that if we have to cancel electronic resources because of cost, it will be difficult to re-start these subscriptions in future years.

A list of publishers who have agreed to freeze prices for 2010 is available from the Medical Library Associations’ Ad Hoc Committee for Advocating Scholarly Communications.

More detailed information regarding the economic crisis and libraries can be found on the Web sites of  academic library consortia that have published letters to scholarly publishers regarding the economic situation and pricing for academic resources. On February 19, 2009, the Association of Research Libraries published their “ARL Statement to Scholarly Publishers on the Global Economic Crisis” referencing a similar statement from the International Coalition of Library Consortia dated January 19, 2009.

In May 2009, the Medical Library Association and the Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries jointly issued a Statement on the Global Economic Crisis and its Impact on Health Sciences Library Collections.

~ Leslie Czechowski