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Finding the gold in Medline: clinical queries
  1. R Brian Haynes, MD, PhD,
  2. Nancy Wilczynski, MSc
  1. Health Information Research Unit, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

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    Medline is the premier source for access to the broad spectrum of the medical literature. With >15 000 000 references from >4800 biomedical journals, the Medline treasure trove contains citations for virtually all the gold that the biomedical research enterprise has to offer.

    But finding exactly what you want in such a huge database has its challenges. Firstly, the indexing is fairly coarsely grained, so that it can be difficult to specify exactly what you are seeking. Secondly, the English language is notorious for synonyms, homonyms, eponyms, and neologisms, making it impossible to include all the possible variants, while at the same time ensuring that you will retrieve many unwanted citations. Thirdly, few doctors have adequate training and competency for searching Medline. Fourthly, even if you find something that appears to be what you want, it is impossible to be sure that you have not …

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