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Please help me save the old PubMed

D Forsdyke forsdyke1 at home.com
Sat Feb 12 09:28:05 EST 2000

More information on your concerns may be found at bionet.journals.note

Russell Farris wrote:
>          Please help me save the old PubMed. On March 1, 2000, it will no
> longer be available and we will have to use the new version, which appears
> to have been designed to discourage riff-raff like me from using Medline
> data to embarrass my doctors.
>          The format of the old and new PubMed forms are compared below for a
> sample citation/abstract saved as a test file.
>                              Old         New
>                            format      format
> -----------------------------------
> Offset from left       0                8
> Words               322            402
> characters       2,308         3,517
> Lines                   43              98
> Pages to print        1                2
> -----------------------------------
>          It is outrageous that in this era, when we are constantly exhorted
> to recycle and save resources, the bureaucrats at the National Library of
> Medicine (NLM)have designed a form which wastes a sheet of paper each time
> an abstract is printed. The layout of the new PubMed is so bad that when you
> print an abstract you not only have to print an extra page, you must keep
> both pages and staple them together. This is necessary because the
> institutional advertising and useless features at the top of the form cause
> the abstracts to have a page break in the middle of the text. If they had
> put the junk at the end of the form, you could at least just throw away the
> second sheet.
>          There is a lot of junk on a sidebar that prints out on every
> citation and abstract. Thousands of other websites have non-printing
> sidebars, why not PubMed?
>          I wrote Word macros to reformat PubMed abstracts into a convenient
> form. Abstracts from the new PubMed, with the junk at the beginning and end,
> and with 8 blank spaces before every line, will be much more  difficult to
> reformat.
>          There are other problems with the new PubMed, and few improvements.
> On the old PubMed, for example, you would see how your search terms were
> grouped with each search. This would often let you know if you had invented
> a new term that the MeSH server couldn't handle. On the new PubMed, you see
> only your search terms as you have typed them. There is consequently a
> greater chance of deluding one's self about the results of a search.
>          The new PubMed does not fix any of the annoying features of the old
> version. Citation data is still in JOURNAL-TITLE-AUTHOR order. I have looked
> at hundreds of journals over the years and I have never seen citations
> listed in that order.
>          When "Saving as" abstracts from the old PubMed, the title returned
> was always "PubMed medline query." When saving abstracts from the new
> PubMed, the title is always "Entrez-PubMed." Neither are very useful-why not
> return the first author's last name and the year?
>          The nicest feature of the new PubMed is the "Go to publisher
> website button." But as nice as this feature is, there is no reason for the
> button to be printed on every citation.
>          A very nice bureaucrat (VNB)at NLM suggested that I look into
> taking a class on the new PubMed. I didn't need a class for the old one, and
> taking a class will not fix the problems with the new one. If NLM had decent
> designers and programmers they wouldn't need to waste millions of dollars
> giving free training at sites all over the country. The VNB at NLM also said
> that "NLM/NCBI has limited staff resources and cannot maintain and support
> two versions of PubMed." If that is true, why not keep the good one?
>          I suspect the real reason they are shutting off the old PubMed is
> because no one is using their new one. PubMed is not a free service--you pay
> for it with your tax dollars and you have a right to expect that the new
> version will be at worst no worse than the old one. I don't know whether the
> new PubMed was done by a contractor, or in house by NLM personnel, but it
> must have cost a fortune. We might as well have thrown the money down a rat
> hole.
>          If you would like to see the old PubMed kept in operation until NLM
> fixes the new one, please write to them at custq at customerq.nlm.nih.gov and
> tell give them your opinion. Thanks.
> Russ Farris

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