How to Keep Up with the Medical Literature: V. Access by Personal Computer to the Medical Literature
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Access to the medical literature through personal computers is now readily available and can greatly reduce logistical barriers to using recently published journal articles to support clinical decisions. In this article, we describe many of the options available to clinicians who wish to do their own computer searching of MEDLINE, the largest of the electronic services for the biomedical literature. The "bare bones" computer equipment needed includes a terminal or personal computer, a modern and telephone line, and a printer. Access to MEDLINE is then gained through subscribing to any of a burgeoning number of database vendors. A comparison of 17 permutations and combinations of software and vendors shows that the software and vendors vary substantially in efficiency, cost, and ease of use. Direct subscription to MEDLINE is least expensive, PaperChase is the simplest service to use, and Colleague and Medis provide both MEDLINE access plus full-text journals online. Basic search techniques are illustrated for three clinical problems.
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