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I've been following with interest the discussion of Silver Platter vs.
Grateful Med for searching MEDLINE.  We make CDPLUS MEDLINE available to
our patrons here, but use Silver Platter for PsycLIT.  I've made some
interesting observations of end-user searching on the two different systems
.  Inexperienced, or "unsophisticated" users definitely prefer to search
Silver Platter.  Basically, what they tell me is "I can type in what I want,
it finds it and lets me print it out.  It's less confusing."  I agree with
them that it is easier to do a "quick and dirty" search using Silver Platter.
Unfortunately, too many users don't realize that that's all they're doing,
and that they're missing significant information.
 
Silver Platter's Thesaurus function is great -- much easier to use and
understand than CDPLUS's, but most end-users don't know it's there, or
why they should use it.
 
CDPLUS is confusing for the beginning searcher, but it forces the use of
controlled vocabulary.  Text word searching is available, but it's not the
default option, so most users will exhaust the possibilities of MESH
first.  My experience is that end-users struggle more with CDPLUS the first
few times they use (and more, if they won't read what's on the $#%%$ screen
in front of them!), but that they do much better searches than they do using
Silver Platter.
 
Hmmmm.  This ties in with our "MEDLINE Missed..." thread, too.  There was
an article along these lines published in Amer. J. of Psychiatry, 1990,
vol 147:1040-1042, with a good rebuttal in AJP 1991, vol. 148:686.
 
Kathleen Turner
Reference Librarian
Eastern Penna. Psychiatric Inst.
Philadelphia, PA.
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