Wednesday, April 27, 2005

MeSH: Medical Subject Headings

Some people think that MeSH is old hat...that using free text searching is much more effective than utilizing this controlled vocabulary. But that's not true...using MeSH is the most effective and efficient way to search MEDLINE.

Some reasons why:
  • The problem of synonyms is taken care when you use the appropriate MeSH term (see Controlled Vocabularies...hmmm and Controlled Vocabularies: why should I care?)
  • Its heirarchical organization allows instantaneous selection of group concepts (more about this later)
  • Utilizing the 'Focus' allows the searcher to designate which concept in their search question has the highest priority (more later)
  • By coordinating subheadings with a MeSH term, a searcher can pinpoint the specific aspect(s) of the concept that is most important (more later)
  • By judiciously selecting MeSH terms, applying appropriate subheadings and combining sets with Boolean operators, you'll quickly identify a group of relevant citations.
With a bit of a time investment to understand MeSH and some practice, I'll bet you can improve the quality of your searches.

I'll bet you didn't know that MeSH has its own homepage! Yup, it makes this librarian smile...


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