Report:MEDLINE/Common Ways to Access/Individual System Details/EBSCOhost
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|Are all file specific search fields enabled?||Yes, including additional indexing beyond MeSH terms.|
|Is the Thesaurus for controlled vocabulary accessible?||Yes.|
|Which search operators are available?||Boolean and proximity.|
|Is truncation available?||Yes, limited and unlimited left, internal, and right truncation.|
|Graphical or command line interface?||Graphical interface.|
|What dates are covered?||1949-Present (full coverage of MEDLINE and OLDMEDLINE)|
EBSCOhost is an online provider and search system for numerous well-known non-patent literature files such as MEDLINE, Inspec, and Polymer Library, along with proprietary files such as Academic Search Complete and Business Source Corporate. For more information on EBSCOhost as a general search system, see the EBSCOhost article.
In addition to featuring access to MEDLINE and OLDMEDLINE era records, EBSCOhost also touts additional full text coverage for MEDLINE records. The full text coverage available through EBSCOhost can be accessed directly through the system itself, and does not require users to visit external sites. Users have the option of limiting results to those records with full text coverage, or even to keyword search within the full text of available records.
EBSCOhost provides three main search interfaces: Basic, Advanced, and Visual. Basic Search is a single field entry that searches the database for keywords. The Advanced Search expands the functionality to include the ability to search in any specific field within MEDLINE, and create Boolean combinations of these field searches. Visual Search offers Basic Search functionality with a dynamic, graphical results display feature that allows users to narrow and limit hit lists via branching index terms.
For all search interfaces, options are available to select a search mode as well as choose to use additional limits derived from the supplementary concept records system in MEDLINE. The search modes and options available are:
- Find all my search terms (automatically uses AND)
- Find any of my search terms (automatically uses OR)
- SmartText Searching (allows users to copy large sections of text)
- Apply related words
- Also search within the full text of the articles
Alerts can be created in EBSCOhost, and modified with respect to frequency and delivery method. Delivery methods include a RSS feed and e-mail options.
The Search History display in EBSCOhost allows users to combine search strings, view results, and examine details of the query. Query details include the search options that were enabled, and the number of hits generated.
The hit list in EBSCOhost can further be modified by the user to sort by date or relevance, narrowed by subject (MeSH terms and supplementary concept records), or limited to those record with available full text, abstracts, or English text. Finally, results may be filtered by publication year, Filtering options are shown in the figure below. .
EBSCOhost succeeds in providing a multi-tiered interface for users of all abilities. Beginning users can simply text search, while advanced users can easily search multiple fields at once. The Visual Search interface offers a unique and intuitive way for users to pare down results with its graphical interface that some users may prefer. However, the Visual Search hit list has some flaws, such as the inability to see more than a few records at a time, and an overall limit of 250 results. Additionally, information about each record is extremely limited unless the record is selected by the user (thus displaying the information in a sidebar).
The full text availability within EBSCOhost is a well publicized feature, and one that proves to be useful with advanced features such as the ability to search within full text, something that not even PubMed can boast.
When comparing EBSCOhost and PubMed on the issue of full text, some clarification is needed. EBSCOhost provides full text copies of certain articles directly, while PubMed only offers links to outside sources where the article may be obtained. The total percentage of full text coverage in PubMed, however, surpasses EBSCOhost in both total linked articles and free-access linked articles.
Full text coverage between the two search systems is not congruent; some articles will have full text coverage in one system but not the other, some will have full text coverage in both, and some in neither.
EBSCOhost is a highly functional search system that gives users an intuitive method of creating and limiting search queries. When compared to PubMed, EBSCOhost is overshadowed in certain aspects. Ultimately, PubMed holds two key advantages over EBSCOhost:
- a greater number of full text articles
- automatically generated controlled vocabulary searching
- a greater number of full text articles
Individual users may prefer one system over the other due to the different interfaces and features offered.