Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Do you think an AUTOALERT is a car alarm?

Actually, an AUTOALERT is an automated current awareness feature available in many databases such as PubMed or Web of Science that emails you when journal articles of particular interest to you are added to the database.

Say you’re researching the gene involved in autism. You go to PubMed Medline, execute a search strategy such as the following: autistic disorder/genetics OR (autism[tiab] AND genetic[tiab])* and click the “save search” button located next to the search box.

You will be taken to the My NCBI sign-in screen and asked to register. Tedious, yes, but you have to do it just once and ever after, or until you cancel it, relevant citations will come to your email inbox without your having to lift a finger. In this one specific area, you will be way more up to date than UpToDate!

Before you save your search, it’s a good idea to test the retrieval so that you receive a manageable number of citations. Judging from the number of articles published in the last year using the above autism search, you should receive an average of 7 or 8 citations every month. The purpose is not to overwhelm yourself with required reading, but to save time by identifying and perhaps reading only the most pertinent and important articles.

Watch this blog for tips on other AUTOALERT applications such as receiving tables of contents of your favorite journals and, more importantly, an automated tool to determine who’s citing your own work.

* Please call the Library Information Services Desk with questions at 692-0810.