Miles of information for medical librarians

2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog. Wow… I posted fewer times than I realized. I would say I will post more in 2014 but instead I will just post as inspiration hits (quality over quantity). So here’s to new ideas in 2014.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,000 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Just a quick blurb about an article that came across my news feed (feedly) on Monday. It is something I have seen in the several news articles and even peer reviewed published paper. For some reason though, there were key phrases in the article that caught my attention. Such as this one:

Because the Google generation of residents and students will hold all of the world’s knowledge in the palm of their hands

Yes they will have access to data in the palm of their hands, as they do now. Yet, even when I round with residents now they are not able to quickly find this data. And even if they are able to quickly find it, they cannot access it due to firewalls or cost. Plus they often have to evaluate the data to see if it is even quality information. So while the mini iPad or mobile device puts answers in your hands, it also raises several questions: Is it quality information? How long does it take you to wade through the information? Who is providing access to the information? Is the information freely available or does it have to be managed? These are questions that come to mind when I read articles like this one.

As a librarian, I’m biased when I read these types of articles. I immediately think about the information overload issues, access to information, quality of the information being provided, and the ability of the person searching to walk through all of these steps and not get fed up and just use Wikipedia (yes sometimes that is ok… sometimes…).

I am also still waiting for a really good hacking/coding librarian to build this:

A computer algorithm will review the patient’s major history, habits, risk factors, family history, biometrics, previous lab data, genomics, and pharmacogenomic data and will synthesize a prioritized agenda of health needs and recommended interventions.

If we are looking at the idea of big data, and librarians being more involved with helping to organize big data.. .is it a stretch to have techie librarians involved with the computer algorithm system. Maybe it is just the tech geek in me wanting to dive into a system like this, and build a really snazzy interface with high quality data to back it up.

It has been over a month since PubMed Commons was first released. I will say that the release was much smoother than PubMed Health’s original release. PubMed Commons was discussed before release, had a great information page, has a twitter account, and had more information posted when it launched. The twitter account has been posting updates about the pilot status and when they are also going public. I will say that when I first posted about it, I was scrambling to get access but that is the nature of beta launches. Now I have access and have had a chance to look around.

First, PubMed Commons is still in pilot mode. This means you have to get an invite in order to get access. I can send invites to people, but you also need an article indexed in PubMed. I will try to send invites to you even if you don’t have an article published. Who knows you may just get access!

So just what does this access get you? Well right now, not much as it is still being developed. There are currently about 6 pages worth of comments.


PubMed Commons Homepage

PubMed Commons Homepage


I like how on the homepage I can see all the comments, and then also the “What People are Reading.” I am curious where the data is being pulled to show what people are reading, who is the people, and how often is that updated?

As for the comments, I am not going to discuss the accuracy of the comments as I cannot judge the comments currently posted. I do want to comment on the features and formatting of comments.

First, I like that I can see how many comments are currently available on the article.



PubMed Commons Comment as it displays on homepage


As you can see in the image above PubMed Commons homepage displays the comments, tells you if others found the comment helpful (typical of most sites with comments), list the authors name with a link to information about them (more on this in another post), gives you the date the comment was made, and this author has provided links to other studies.


PubMed Commons comment as displays in PubMed

This image shows how the comments look in PubMed with the abstract. If you currently do not have access to PubMed Commons then you will not see the comments at the bottom but this feature is coming soon when they make PubMed Commons available to the public.

When you look at the abstract on PubMed, this is where you can click “Was this comment helpful?” You can also reply to the comment or report the comment. So just how does the comment box look?

When someone post a comment they are just given a big comment box to type everything into: PC4

They have provided the ability to add links, and to also access the guidelines for posting to PubMed Commons. These are nice features. I think it would be great to also add some other HTML simple features. For instance, in other comments some people have added numbers next to references or sections to break items out. It would be great if you could add bullet list, and also to format font. Now how many people will actually spend time formatting font? Well that depends on how well PubMed Commons catches on.

In the previous post, I said that PubMed Commons could just end up adding to all of the noise out on the internet and I still think this is a possibility. There is one thing that PubMed has going for it that other similar programs have not… the comments will appear with the article abstract on a site that thousands of researchers use daily. Yes it is another item to look at and read through, but would it save me time to read through the comments before reading through a 20 page article? Possibly. If the comments are short, well written, applicable, quality comments then yes I might read the comments before reading the entire article.

Well then just how do I know who is the person commenting though?

Right now, if I click on the commentators name, all I see is how many comments they have made and not much more information.




But wait… who is Hilda Bastian and can I trust her comments? Yes I could read through and analyze the comments. I could also cyber stalk Hilda to find out more information about her. The ideal option though would be that when I click on Hilda’s name, it also list out her publications in PubMed. Then I could see that she has written on this topic and has authority on the subject.

Even better, is if PubMed Commons eventually works in the new SciENVcv.  What? You haven’t heard of this? Yeah, I actually just stumbled across this when I was reading the NLM technical bulletin for this post! It is a new feature I didn’t realize was being released (information overload, kind of like what many of said PubMed Commons might turn into):



So if this post wasn’t already log enough…. let’s dive into SciENVcv a little.

It is actually already on your  MyNCBI account. It is just at the very bottom of the page (at least it was on mine):


I do not have an eRA account so I went through the manual set up.


The set up is pretty standard. I will say that it would have been nice to have a drop down for country. I could have put in USA, United States, etc.


One nice feature is that I can share the biosketch (Yeah I can do this in LinkedIn, Doximity, website, and many other places too). I can also extract my CV as a PDF, which I can also do in LinkedIn, and other places. A nice feature would have been if I could have imported a CV to make it easier to upload all of these items. Or if I could have just linked to LinkedIn, Doximity, Mendeley, or another place.

The question is, will I keep updating my CV information in multiple places. Even better, will physicians. Now, this new SciENVcv actually connects to the grants section and information often required in order to receive grants. So it may be very beneficial to researchers and others who often submit grants. It would be nice if you could share some sections but keep others sections private.

If this turns into a why that you can find out more about authors or commentators on PubMed then I think it will be a huge help. If it also eventually leads to ways you could connect to colleagues, add authors to groups, download contact information, or find people at your institution who have published (yes this is hard to track down sometimes) then it could be even more beneficial. Do I think that I will stop updating LinkedIn? Doximity? Website? Other places? At this point for me, I will continue to update my profile on LinkedIn, and some parts on my website. I often will post in various social network sites that to find out more about me please visit my LinkedIn page or my website. Why? Well I just cannot update everything, and IFTTT.COM doesn’t have an easy way to say if I update my LinkedIn Profile also update Google Profile, Facebook, Twitter, SciENVcv, etc. Man that would be sweet.

Or what if I could save articles with a tag and then create an action to invite the author to connect on LinkedIn. I’m going to investigate that now, and also probably set up my SciENVcv… hey it’s just one more place to update information that will probably get outdated eventually!?!


Tonight is the regularly scheduled twitter chat. When I checked the schedule earlier this week, I saw no one was listed to host. So I asked @eagledawg if she needed someone to volunteer, and she said yes. So I will be leading the chat tonight on Health/Fitness Technology and Apps.

I know we just had a recent discussion about Autumn App Harvest on #medlibs Twitter chat, but I was curious to take another perspective. I wanted to talk about health and fitness apps that could be useful for clinicians and the community. Also wanted to focus more on how you promote these to the community.

So please join us tonight for #medlibs Twitter chat. For more details, see the post over on the #medlibs blog: Health/Fitness Technology and Apps. I hope to “see” you online tonight.

Last Saturday, I had the wonderful opportunity of presenting at the Diabetes University, “Get Fit and Stay Healthy” on October 1, 2013. The  Diabetes University has been held in Columbus, Georgia, for 16 years. It is presented by the Southern Diabetes Foundation and Columbus Research Foundation. It is great to see this type of event has been offered to the community for so long. The event is actually a two day conference with the first day focused on professionals in the health care field, and day two focuses on those in the community. Additionally, many physicians took time out of their Saturday to present about diabetes and health to the community. I think though, I was the only one tweeting the event.

For me, it was a great opportunity to discuss how technology can not only be fun but help people stay fit and healthy. Of course, I couldn’t present about technology and health without talking about NLM, MedlinePlus, and the local library. I was also excited that I did not go over my allotted time! I said I would post the presentation so here it is:


The slides are mostly screen shots of various apps, websites, tech, etc. I think it shows kind of how the flow went. I had about 20 minutes to run through all of this and discuss how technology can help people stay fit. I also had to break down a few things to explain “the cloud,” “apps,” etc. as I was talking to an audience with mixed levels of tech experience. It certainly kept me on my toes.

I think the presentation went well overall. I had a few people asking me to come back to speak to the health professionals, which is great. I saw several people in the audience writing down some of the apps, especially the fun apps. Any time we can get out in front of the community to talk about health, fitness, tech, and the library is IMO always a good thing.

Introducing: PubMed Commons

Did you hear the news this morning? At 11:00 am on October 22, 2013, PubMed has released the all new PubMed Commons, by invitation only. It is a pilot program so we will see how it all goes.

“PubMed Commons is a system that enables researchers to share their opinions about scientific publications. Researchers can comment on any publication indexed by PubMed, and read the comments of others. PubMed Commons is a forum for open and constructive criticism and discussion of scientific issues. It will thrive with high quality interchange from the scientific community. PubMed Commons is currently in a closed pilot testing phase, which means that only invited participants can add and view comments in PubMed.”

I think this is a neat idea, but I just wonder if it is going to create more noise or help?

Will PubMed Commons have more appeal since it is being targeted at a limited audience? Or will it also be discontinued like Medpedia and Google Sidewiki? Medpedia was a place for approved clinicians/scientist to create a medical wikipedia. The site eventually shut down due to lack of interest. There was also little to show for how useful it was or if people were even using it. Google previously created a similar feature, Google Sidewiki but discontinued this product in December 2011.

In addition to the failure of Medpedia and Google Sidewiki, many journal vendors publish comments on their pages. There is even a new string of Journal Club apps that allow clinicians/scientist to publish comments. Or you could log into items such as QuantiaMD or Doximity to see what others are reading/commenting about.

Will PubMed commons be more successful since it is tied to PubMed? If PubMed Commons catches on it could be successful or it could just create more noise on the internet that no one reads. Then what happens to the comments published on say, NEJM’s website? How would those get tied back into PubMed Commons? Would it really create a place to bring together all the comments or just another place to add more reviews?

I am interested to see how this progresses. I think if PubMed works on creating some additional features to add to PubMed Commons it might be more successful. For instance: iPad app, magazine app (or integration into Flipboard), ability to tweet/facebook/share comments, ability to subscribe to comments on your article, ability to receive alerts when someone comments on an article you published (or any article), ability to confirm the person commenting identity, etc. These are just a couple of questions I have so far, and a couple of possible suggestions for PubMed Commons.

The last one is really a key point. If you cannot confirm who wrote the comment, then this could all just create more spam and noise. As I do not yet have an invitation to the pilot, I cannot say how they are confirming people’s identity. I also cannot comment on if there is a way to share or do the other items I listed above. Check out this post to see a great discussion on identity, possible need for anonymity, and other concerns.

Making it easy for people to add comments is also key. If it is too difficult or only accessible from a PC, and/or if it is not an easy to use/read interface then this might now catch on (and I am wondering if this will catch on) with many scientist which is vital for this to succeed. Again, just my initial thoughts before I have a chance to really see and review PubMed Commons. Have any of my #medlibs friends had a chance to review this new resource?

I do not currently have an invite to try the PubMed Commons Pilot. If someone wants to send me an invite… I would appreciate it! For now, please take a look at Hilda Bastian’s post for details about the new PubMed Commons Pilot.

 Other articles on PubMed Commons and Links:

On Saturday, November 21, October 19, I am doing a short presentation at a diabetes conference in Columbus, GA, about using technology to help you stay healthy. I was asked to speak at the community event to discuss with attendees about the various technology available to help people stay healthy whether they are currently living with diabetes, trying to prevent diabetes, or just interested in living a healthy life.

How did I get asked? I gave a presentation to a group of nurses and nurse educators about library resources, and one of the attendees asked if I would be interested in speaking at the local diabetes conference.

It is an excellent opportunity to speak to the community on this subject. Of course, I have been given 20 minutes to talk and I have several items I want to cover:

  1. Fitness Apps
    1. MapMyFitness
    2. MyFitnessPal
    3. Fitbit, Runkeeper, Nike, or just use Moves
  2. Food Apps & Sites
    1. Fooducate
    2. Diabetic Audio Recipes
    3. Tastemade
  3. Diabetes
    1. Glooko Logbook
    2. dLife
    3. MyNetDiary
    4. BlueLoop
    5. Glucose Buddy
    6. Carb Counting with Lenny (for kids)
    7. Mysugr
    8. WaveSense Diabetes Manager
    9. Diabetic Connect
  4. Tech for fun
    1. Local library resources & apps

And of course I could not do a presentation without mentioning MedlinePlus and other NLM resources.

So these are just the main items I have been reviewing and considering presenting. I wanted to hear from the rest of you, what apps do you use to stay healthy? Recommendations for other items people would find useful? Comments about the items listed above (pros/cons)?

Again, this is a great opportunity and I am excited to talk to the community about how technology can improve their health. I will of course post my presentation online after the event for others to review.


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