Performance appraisal of online MEDLINE access routes.
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OBJECTIVE: To compare the performance and cost of 11 online MEDLINE systems with MEDLINE at Elhill. DESIGN: Comparative study. SYSTEMS: Eleven online daytime systems commercially available in North America offering the MEDLINE database. MEASURES: Number of relevant citations, number of irrelevant citations, proportion of searches producing no relevant citations and cost per relevant citation were analyzed for each system. Relevance and cost for each system were compared with direct searching of MEDLINE through NLM for librarian and clinician search strategies for 18 clinical questions. The citations retrieved by both strategies were pooled and rated for relevance on a 7-point scale. RESULTS: Numbers of relevant and irrelevant citations and cost per relevant citation were higher for clinician searches than librarian searches, reflecting the higher total number of citations retrieved by the clinician approaches. A lower proportion of clinician searches produced no relevant citations than librarian searches. CONCLUSIONS: Eleven daytime MEDLINE systems performed similarly in terms of retrieval and cost within similar searching groups. Clinicians, however, tended to capture larger overall retrievals resulting in higher numbers of relevant and irrelevant citations than librarians.
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