Abstract

Introduction: Medline is one of the most important databases in the biomedical field. One of the most important hosts for Medline is Elton B. Stephens CO. (EBSCO), which has presented different search methods that can be used based on the needs of the users. Visual search and MeSH-controlled search methods are among the most common methods. The goal of this research was to compare the precision of the retrieved sources in the EBSCO Medline base using MeSH-controlled and visual search methods. 

Methods: This research was a semi-empirical study. By holding training workshops, 70 students of higher education in different educational departments of Kashan University of Medical Sciences were taught MeSH-Controlled and visual search methods in 2012. Then, the precision of 300 searches made by these students was calculated based on Best Precision, Useful Precision, and Objective Precision formulas and analyzed in SPSS software using the independent sample T Test, and three precisions obtained with the three precision formulas were studied for the two search methods. 

Results: The mean precision of the visual method was greater than that of the MeSH-Controlled search for all three types of precision, i.e. Best Precision, Useful Precision, and Objective Precision, and their mean precisions were significantly different (P <0.001). Sixty-five percent of the researchers indicated that, although the visual method was better than the controlled method, the control of keywords in the controlled method resulted in finding more proper keywords for the searches. Fifty-three percent of the participants in the research also mentioned that the use of the combination of the two methods produced better results. 

Conclusion: For users, it is more appropriate to use a natural, language-based method, such as the visual method, in the EBSCO Medline host than to use the controlled method, which requires users to use special keywords. The potential reason for their preference was that the visual method allowed them more freedom of action. 

Key words: Medline, controlled method, MeSH, visual method 
 
 
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