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Coming Soon: An Updated PubMed!

Posted by on March 7th, 2019 Posted in: Announcements, NLM Products, PubMed

As the biomedical literature increases at a significant rate in PubMed, NCBI has continuously experimented and investigated ways to improve the overall search quality and user experience. An updated version of PubMed, which will eventually replace the current version, is now available on the experimental PubMed Labs platform. The updated version of PubMed includes the following features. To see graphical illustrations from PubMed Labs, visit the NLM Technical Bulletin.

PubMed Labs website with an illustration of a beaker being lit by a heat source

PubMed Labs homepage

  • Enhanced Search Results
    PubMed now offers a new relevance sort option named Best Match as an alternative to the default date sort, making it easier for users to find what they seek. Best Match uses a state-of-the-art machine learning algorithm that is trained on aggregated user searches. The Best Match algorithm ranks search results according to several relevance signals, including an article’s popularity, its publication date and type, and its query-document relevance score. Full details about Best Match are available in the PLOS Biology article, Best Match: New relevance search for PubMed.Search results now include snippets, which are highlighted text fragments from the article abstract that are selected based on their relatedness to the query and give users additional information to help them decide if an article is useful. Additional improvements to the interface make it easier to discover related content, e.g. similar articles, references, and citations. Also, in the updated version of PubMed, the underlying document data that is indexed has been newly generated by merging content from PubMed, Bookshelf, and PubMed Central (PMC), so that relevant information not ordinarily available in a PubMed record, e.g. reference citations from PMC, can be displayed.
  • Responsive Design
    The updated PubMed features a mobile-first, responsive layout that offers better support for accessing PubMed content with the increasingly popular small-screen devices such as mobile phones and tablets. The interface is compatible with any screen size, which provides a fresh, consistent look and feel throughout the application, no matter how it is accessed.
  • Updated Technology
    The updated version of PubMed uses Solr, an open-source enterprise search system, for document indexing, and MongoDB for storage and retrieval. In addition to its scalability and reliability, Solr also provides many powerful out-of-the-box search functionalities, such as wildcards (‘*’), groupings, and joins. For example, unlike the current version of PubMed, the updated version does not limit the number of variants for wildcards. The MongoDB storage solution provides default data replication between different data centers, which ensures redundancy. The updated PubMed runs on a modern cloud architecture that provides scalability and a reliable backup environment. The updated PubMed uses the Django Web framework on the front-end, making use of the latest web technologies and standards.
  • User-Driven Development
    The updated PubMed continues to be validated by prioritizing and aligning features based on user research including usability testing and continuous feedback from users.

Please note the updated version does not include the complete set of features currently found in PubMed; however, NLM is iteratively adding functions and improving the system. Feedback is welcome! Submit comments, questions, or concerns using the PubMed Labs Feedback button.

Image of the author ABOUT Alan Carr
Alan Carr is the Associate Director, National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Pacific Southwest Region, based at UCLA.

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This project is funded by the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, under Cooperative Agreement Number UG4LM012341 with the UCLA Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library.

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