Friday, June 17, 2005

Entrez: The Life Sciences Search Engine

In my previous post, I discussed the rich linking environment in Entrez. What makes this resource even more impressive is the search gateway page that NCBI has created to search across all of Entrez's inter-connected nodes with one query.


The gateway is a wonderful place to start a search of the Entrez system. For example, I saw a recent Yale Medicine article on zebrafish and I’d like a summary of related information on that topic.

Try typing in zebrafish on the query line and the system searches across all of Entrez's nodes. Sometimes there are hundreds or thousands of results from a particular database and sometimes there are no relevant results returned. This makes sense, since not all nodes may contain data on a particular topic.

As always, NCBI provides excellent Help for this resource, including mouse-over synopses of the nodes and their scope. Entrez even searches for relevant NCBI and other outside websites and resources, including the National Library of Medicine's on-line catalog. Another nice feature of the gateway is that it uses MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) to search PubMed.

The Entrez gateway is a great place to start researching a topic, but it has its limitations. To perform a thorough search of a specific aspect of your topic, such as genomic information or nucleotide sequences, it's always best to use the search screens for the individual nodes.

Take the Entrez gateway out for a spin at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/gquery/gquery.fcgi
You'll be amazed at the power of this search engine.

Tip: The Entrez gateway is called different things, depending on which Entrez node you are searching. If you are in PubMed, the link to the gateway is called All Databases. In other nodes, it's called Entrez.

Posted by Judy Spak, guest blogger.

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