MedNar Example: Gaucher Disease:
Today, I was trying to answer a reference question. It was a pretty common question. For X condition or treatment, what are some names of doctors working in this area? My favorite tools of choice for this type of question have been, for MANY years, Novoseek and MedStory. I really really love Novoseek & MedStory. I should say, LOVED. Because they are both gone. I don’t know why, but I am really unhappy about it. Really. Often. I’d even go so far as to say somewhat miserable over it.
Novoseek was an absolutely brilliant clustering search engine that drew content from both the general web, PubMed, free open access journals, and grant databases. and I forget what other sources I could specify. It would scan the results, analyse them semantically, and parse the results into thematic clusters. These included diseases, symptoms, drugs, chemicals, organisms, anatomy, procedures, and then the bibliographic breakdown (authors, years, journals, and other trends).
MedStory did the same sort of thing, but pulled from the open web as well as grants, news, multimedia, and research (probably PubMed). In addition to the other categories, MedStory included two tabs, one for “health” and one for research, adding in such clusters as CAM, nutrition, personal health, clinical trials, research centers, genes …….
See why I loved them so?
Now, I’ve been off hunting other PubMed alternatives that do even a fraction of what Novoseek & MedStory did. It’s been a frustrating experience. This tool does this part, that tool does the other part, nothing does this other bit, and God help you. Today, hunting for a nice simple clustering search engine that would allow me to search PubMed and deduce the top names in a topic? Oh, I went through a lot.
I tried my old favorites. And backups. Novoseek isn’t the only one that’s gone now. I went to lists of Pubmed alternatives. And more lists, and more. I tested tool after tool. I tried a web search to discover a good PubMed cluster search engine that included authors in the clusters. And I was frustrated. Really REALLY frustrated!
These two are what I ended up with: Authormapper and MedNar.
I had seen Authormapper before, but had never heard of MedNar. Authormapper is ok. It is from a publisher and doesn’t draw from PubMed but instead from the journals published by the publishing firm (Springer). It is a nice idea, and has a nice interface. It just doesn’t have the broader content that I actually wanted, and I find it hard to trust, since the database behind it is biased and slanted. It provided a list of names, but when I started digging, almost all of them listed for the test condition of Gaucher Disease were retired or otherwise unavailable. I was able to apply a date range limit, and that helped. A very little, but it did help.
MedNar is closer to Novoseek and MedStory, although not as rich, and not as comprehensive. I was able to get a list of names.
Sidransky, Ellen (8)
A Zimran (7)
Elstein, Deborah (7)
Altarescu, Gheona (6)
Zimran, Ari (6)
And the names even included people who had published within the past couple years! I guess MedNar is going to be my new favorite toy, even if every time I look at it, I still wish for Novoseek and MedStory.