What are you Thankful For? Pubmed

Nov 22 2010 Published by under Academia

Well, ok, Sci's thankful for lots of things.  Having recently completed a rather difficult race, I'm very thankful right now for ice packs.


Also Gu.  I <3 Gu.


But this post is not about such material things. No. This post is about Pubmed.

Sci will admit that I am too young to have been doing science before Pubmed. I can only imagine how it has changed the scientific lives of those who were. But for me, Pubmed is a treasure trove of glory the like of which causes the eyes of young nerds to shine in constant anticipation.

I have an idea. I think "hey, is that true? how do i know?" And do I have to write down the question and dig through a catalog and try to find the answer in huge leather volumes? NO! Instead I go to Pubmed, type in my keywords, and get tons of options to address what I'm asking.

If you only have access to print journals, you can only get so many. While universities won't have electronic access to every journal on Pubmed, they DO have access to all the ABSTRACTS! From there, you can email the author and ask for a copy if necessary, or just grab it if you university has access to the journal. This means that your reading is not confined to just a few journals that you can get in print. It's open to EVERYTHING. Now, the stuff people publish tangentially related to your field will show up with the right keywords, even if it's in a journal of which you've never heard and where people in your field never publish. This means not only that your papers may have better and more specific citations, but it also means that you have access to more papers than ever before on which to base new hypotheses and design new experiments.

And not only that, it has much broader appeal as well. Obviously the importance of Pubmed to Sci's life as a blogger cannot be overstated. It's how researchers LEARN. By reading the work in the field (textbooks can only tell you so much, and often they information is out of date). And when you're like Sci, and often writing about things that are only slightly related to my field of interest, being able to get a deep pile of information on it at your fingertips is a GOLD MINE. I can safely say that I would probably not be science blogging without being able to look up this stuff at home.

But aside from me, other people (and even people not in science) can benefit from Pubmed. While a lot of the abstracts listed are overly complicated for a lay reader (like this one), others are not (like this one). Of course, it's often hard for a lay reader to tell which papers are good and which are bad, but it can be a starting place for finding real, scientifically sound information about medical science.

So this Thanksgiving I am thankful for Pubmed. In my science life, in my blogging life, and in my infinite curiosity.

8 responses so far

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Word. To the eleventh. I DO remember the TimeBeforePubmed, you know. If we returned to those days......SHUDDER!

  • Pascale says:

    As someone who did science before PubMed, I can heartily second your thankfulness.

  • Bashir says:

    It's hard to think of science pre-internet. Though obviously it got done. The only knowledge I have is a vague memory of photocopying journal articles once in high school.

  • I'm curious: how many people still uses indices like PubMed these days? I think I started using Google Scholar a few years ago and haven't used anything else in at least a year and a half. The more curated indices are nice in that there are more ways of refining your search, but their coverage isn't great. As someone who needs to pull up articles from linguistics, psychology, computer science and neuroscience -- which means both journal articles and conference papers -- I found PubMed or PsychInfo (the ones I used most) too limited.

    • scicurious says:

      I actually found that Google Scholar only really works when I know EXACTLY what I'm looking for. If I'm searching based on keywords, I prefer Pubmed. But it definitely has a wider scope, we often just don't need that in my field.

  • BMEGradStudent says:

    As one of those people who entered university with Google Scholar, PubMed etc. fully established, and can't quite imagine a world without them, I tend to use a variety of systems.

    If I'm looking for work done by a particular group/author I'll use Scopus, because of its automatic aggregation mechanisms. For a quick survey of the field, particularly if it's in an area I'm not familiar with, due at least in part to the automatic ranking mechanisms, I'll use Google Scholar. I also find Google Scholar's 'papers citing this paper' particularly useful for the same reason. I use PubMed for two things, 1) Looking for Review articles, and 2) Keeping up with recent developments on a particular topic. (Google Scholar refuses to let you sort by date, which renders it useless for this).

  • [...] Neurotic Physiology — What are you Thankful For? PubmedIt’s not just us who are thankful for access to scientific journals! [...]

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