Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Health Sciences Online

A colleague today asked my opinion of the new Health Sciences Online resource. As I'd never heard of it I took a look.

It claims to be "the first website to deliver authoritative, comprehensive, free, and ad-free health sciences knowledge", however I've worked on several projects making that claim over the last few years...

HSO launched in September 2008 as a virtual learning center with browse and search functions covering top-quality courses and references (over 50,000 at present) in medicine, public health, pharmacy, dentistry, nursing, basic sciences, and other health sciences disciplines. It is supported by the Canadian and British Columbian governments, the World Health Organization, NATO’s Science for Peace Program, the Annenberg Physician Training Program, and the Ulrich and Ruth Frank Foundation for International Health. The founding collaborators include CDC, World Bank, the American College of Preventive Medicine, and the University of British Columbia.

Although it is more international in scope (and probably has more money), the approach of making high quality relevant resources easy to find on a browsable and searchable web site was the one we used in the OMNI and NMAP projects for UK higher education nearly ten years ago. OMNI and NMAP now form part of the Intute service and similar functionality and resources can be found in parts of the UK NHS's National Library for Health.

What I can't see in HSO, and were important aspects of NMAP and OMNI, was a clear public statement about the selection criteria being used for the inclusion of resources - I have asked HSO about this, but have not received a response yet. I've also asked about the way in which the resources are displayed and whether there are particular biases eg towards US materials - it will be interesting to see what they say.

It will be interesting to see how the HSO service develops and whether we will see increasing synergy or competition between the various sites providing these sorts of services. I also wonder, as the World Health Organisation is one of the supporters, whether this is seen as being a step along the road to a controlled .health top level domain on the world wide web.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Go PubMed - What, Who, Where and When.

I have just come across a new search application called Go PubMed at

It uses the content of PubMed which is familiar to many of us, but enables more complex searches via a "semantic search engine", which it is claimed reduces search time by up to 90%. Relevant hits are sorted into top level categories What, Who, Where and When enabling searches based on both content and metadata.

It is made by Transinsight and, in my opinion and on a quick and dirty test, does meet its claims. I will be using this one again.

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