Awhile ago, I asked people to send me a copy of their PubMed syllabi. 13 of you did so. THANK YOU! Here's a really quick tally of what appeared in them. Some of the syllabi
were very detailed and others were general outlines. So, it was easier to know
exactly what was covered in some while others involved more guesswork. What follows is a count of how many syllabi covered which items. Perhaps there will be more analysis to come (as I have more time).


One area of
consistency was Limits. 12 of 13 syllabi contained mention of at
least one limit. Language, dates, and publication types were most often


Sort options: 9
syllabi distinctly mention the different sort options


Clinical Queries /
My NCBI: 8 syllabi cover each of these features to one extent or another


Send to Printer or
Send to Email = 6 


Single Citation
Matcher = 6


Finding full text
for a citation = 6 (This surprised me. It's possible that this is covered by all the instructors but not specifically mentioned in the syllabi)


Various display

Abstract view = 4

Citation view = 6

MEDLINE view = 3


Related articles = 5


History as a tool
for combining searches = 5


Clipboard = 4


Boolean logic = 4


Automatic Term
Mapping described = 3

Only one of the
syllabi indicated that they discussed what turns off automatic term mapping.


Showing the Details
box = 4


Searching by simply
typing terms into the search box & clicking Go = 3 + 3 more that described
this process as “keyword searching.” There was another syllabus that referred
to “basic” and “advanced” searching. It could be that the former was using the
search box and the latter was using the MeSH database, but I couldn’t tell for


Author searching = 2


It was difficult to
try to figure out exactly what was being taught in regard to MeSH. I could see
the following in the syllabi:


Using the Entrez
MeSH database to build a search = 6 
Definition of MeSH =
MeSH Subheadings = 4 
MeSH Major Topic = 3 
MeSH Tree Structure
described = 2


The following also
appeared in syllabi but I was not able to discern exactly what was covered
under these headings (probably one or more of the above items):


Understanding MeSHUsing MeSHDiscuss and demo
MeSHSearching with MeSH 


Other things covered by only one or two syllabi:


Assumed “and” in
PubMed = 1Using the search box
alone to do single citation matching = 1Publication types =
1Difference between
PubMed and MEDLINE = Journals database =
1Preview/Index = 1How to print a pdf
document = 1Pop up blockers
& PubMed  = 1Using bibliographic
software  & PubMed = 2How PubMed differs
from Ovid = 1How PubMed differs
from Google = 1Philosophy of
searching = 1


Before I close, I'd like to make two observations:
(1) After teaching PubMed for quite a few years now, I think that some of the syllabi I received could never be covered in 1 - 1.5 hours. They were just too ambitious.
(2) I was surprised at how very few syllabi discussed a philosophy for developing a search. As the PubMed database keeps changing, it seems imperative to me that we move away from trying to teach a step-by-step "recipe" for searching and move, instead, to modeling a search technique born from a deliberative way of thinking about how information is organized or how databases WORK. Along these lines, I have to say that I was totally impressed by J. Bruman’s flowchart
describing the searching process. I thought it would be really useful to all our students. All I can say is that it should
be published. Please consider doing so!! 

Thank you to everyone who was kind enough to send their syllabi! I really appreciate it.
Donna Berryman, MLISAssistant Director, Education & Information ServicesEdward G. Miner LibraryUniversity of RochesterRochester, NY














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