Mark Rabnett, in his article Five ways to improve PubMed says what many medical librarians are no doubt thinking. The Medical Subject Heading (MeSH) system, used by the National Library of Medicine to index articles in PubMed/Medline, is certainly one of the best indexing systems in the world. Unfortunately the way it’s implemented in PubMed makes it difficult for users to appreciate its elegant features. Rabnett reports on a brainstorming session on improving PubMed at the recent annual Canadian Health Libraries Association conference. One of the five suggestions was to Improve the MeSH database:

Where to start. The MeSH database is stiff and laboured, with occasional outbreaks of tumid extravagance. My group all agreed that we need clearer, more intuitive visual displays of the thesaurus and subheadings. The creation of a search statement using MeSH headings needs a complete rethink. … Even searching for MeSH headings is difficult and unpredictable. But worse, no one really understands it.  When I teach MeSH, my students glaze over as if I were lecturing on 12-tone music. The way PubMed presents MeSH is fussy and needlessly complex. We need a MeSH mashup.

Hey medical librarians — Let’s help our users discover the buried treasure of MeSH!

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