Miles of information for medical librarians #medlibs

Today’s post is brought to you by the #0

Who knew emailing the PubMed Help Desk actually… well…helps! On March 16, 2011, I emailed the following suggestion to the PubMed Help Desk:

Can “Item in Clipboard” be moved to next to the journal title and information?

I conduct searches in PubMed frequently. I use many of the features, including combining searches, advanced search, etc. Often I am frustrated when working on a long complex search to see items already in the clipboard continuing to display in the search results. After all, it takes time to review the abstracts so I don’t want to continue reviewing and choosing the same abstracts over and over when they are already in the clipboard. Yes I can combine the different searches but those pesky items in the clipboard keep displaying!

I remembered the discussions on the Medlib Listserv following the PubMed update in October 2009.  There were a few emails and discussions about items not displaying in green when an article is in the clipboard. While I found several emails lamenting the loss of the green indicator, I did not find any solutions or suggestions. A couple months later there was a short message with some cryptic information on removing items already in the clipboard from the search result but nothing else.

Well the PubMed Help Desk stated there are no plans to make any changes to the indicator “Items in Clipboard.” But that’s ok. The Help Desk provided even better information, a work around.

So lets refresh. I have been using PubMed for 3 years now. I have taken a PubMed class. I use PubMed everyday at work, even on the weekend sometimes :). Even with all of this exposure to PubMed, I do not recall hearing or seeing this work around before:

Citations in the Clipboard are represented by the search number #0, which may be used in Boolean search statements. For example, to limit the citations you have collected in the Clipboard to English language articles, use the following search: #0 AND english [la]. This does not affect or replace the Clipboard contents.

Really!?!? That’s it? I did a quick search and sure enough, there it was:

PubMed Advanced Search Page

As plain as the nose on my face. All I can say is the search history may have been too long and I never bothered to hit the “More” button, or I just wasn’t paying attention.

I must have missed this somewhere in the discussions or documentation, right? Well I reviewed all of the Medlib Listserv Archives and could not find any mention of this work around besides the confusing email mentioned above. I then looked at notes from previous PubMed classes, discussions, etc.  Finally I googled it. I found a brief mention of using the #0 in one of the PubMed tutorials, but even this only mentions #0 represents clipboard in the search history. Of course I found more details in Internet Cool Tools for Physicians.  Then buried in the PubMed Help bookis the exact information the PubMed Help Desk sent.

So I post this here today to make note of this wonderful feature, and hope when someone else googles for help with PubMed’s clipboard they might stumble across this post and find it useful.  It is another step in the process, but a good step and one I will certainly be using. Proof that I always have something to learn.

A quote for fun:

The minute that you’re not learning I believe you’re dead. ~

Jack Nicholson


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