Preliminary assessment of the effect of more informative (structured) abstracts on citation retrieval from MEDLINE.
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OBJECTIVE: To compare the recall and precision of citation retrieval from MEDLINE when searching in journals containing traditional abstracts with journals containing abstracts prepared according to the guidelines of more informative abstracts (MIAs) for clinical journal articles. DESIGN: Analytic survey of operating characteristics of MeSH terms and textwords selected to detect studies meeting basic methodological criteria for direct clinical use in general adult medicine in priority journals with and without MIAs. MEASURES: The sensitivity, specificity, and precision of search terms were determined by comparison with a manual review of all articles (the gold standard) in 10 internal and general medicine journals for 1986 and 1991. The performance of each search term was compared before and after the implementation of MIAs and in two journal sets with and without MIAs in 1991. RESULTS: The sensitivity of some terms increased with the use of MIAs and also increased by the same amount in journals with usual abstracts in 1991 compared to 1986. The use of MIAs had the greatest impact in the areas of etiology and prognosis. Many MeSH and textwords had comparable performance before and after the implementation of MIAs and between journals with and without MIAs in 1991. CONCLUSIONS: More informative abstracts improved the retrieval properties of some, but not all, textwords and medical subject headings. Further work may be needed to enhance the effects of MIAs on bibliographic retrieval.
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