Profile picture
Tracy Shields @tcshields
, 12 tweets, 7 min read Read on Twitter
Since a few #medlibs asked... I've dug up some of my favorite examples of bad / wtf MeSH indexing, along with a few of my go-to searches to show how automatic term mapping (ATM) in #PubMed can do unexpected things.

A thread 👇
"The importance of good images in using hair to screen for breast cancer" ( has been indexed with "Magic"[Mesh]. I'm guessing it's because the next letter, on page 2 of pdf, has the title "Science or Black Magic?" #medlibs…
I mentioned this one during the #medlibs chat:

MeSH fun includes being indexed with "Telepathy"[Majr]. I assume based on context it should maybe have been "Telepathology"[Mesh]. But also... did you know there is a Mesh term for telepathy?
This example is what I used when I was involved in training new #medlibs on MeSH and searching:

It is poorly indexed in general, but includes "MEDLINE/statistics and numerical data"[Mesh] because... MEDLINE is mentioned as a place they searched, I guess?
But we can't blame our search results on poor indexing alone. The MeSH terms themselves can be iffy, and ATM going on behind the scenes - does anyone other than #medlibs even know about that? - works against you.
#medlibs: so you did a search for nursing

PubMed search: nursing
"nursing"[Subheading] OR "nursing"[All Fields] OR "nursing"[MeSH Terms] OR "nursing"[All Fields] OR "breast feeding"[MeSH Terms] OR ("breast"[All Fields] AND "feeding"[All Fields]) OR "breast feeding"[All Fields]

#medlibs: I wanted nursing the career, not breastfeeding.
Want to know if you should be taking antibiotics before hip replacement surgery to prevent infection? Okay, #medlibs let's try:

prophylactic antibiotics hip replacement

And PubMed does... well, um... this:

(I just know there's a joke here about Trojan horses)
Want lit on data from the military health system? Let's try:

military health system data repository

PubMed says: Hope you don't mind looking in the journal 'Brown University Digest of Addiction Theory and Application' and a focus on veterans instead of active duty, #medlibs
#medlibs protip: This is why you should specify fields for some terms, especially if you know it's going to give back weirdness. Also why the term itself matters, as does if you used singular versus plural, and the order you put the terms in. All of it affects ATM.
One last #medlibs protip: Do you or your patrons know about "FORMAT: Summary (text)" ? This is a hidden gem of PubMed. Change the default format from summary to that (and sort by first author to get alphabetized, if you really want fancy) and you will get the perfect citation:
"Summary (text)" one of my favorite things to share in training or instructional sessions, because it is guaranteed to wake up people, get audible comments like "whaaaa?" and "omg do that again!" and even happy clapping. Enough to warm even the coldest #medlibs heart.
Missing some Tweet in this thread?
You can try to force a refresh.

Like this thread? Get email updates or save it to PDF!

Subscribe to Tracy Shields
Profile picture

Get real-time email alerts when new unrolls are available from this author!

This content may be removed anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just three indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member and get exclusive features!

Premium member ($30.00/year)

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!