A wealth of medical information is currently available on the web - but not all of it is equally trustworthy or easy to access. Fortunately, an ongoing initiative at the National Institutes of Health - the National Library of Medicine (NLM) - has come a long way in alleviating both of these concerns. This widget is designed to provide access to the NLM's contents in two ways: By using a search metaengine (Clusty) to group the results of a medical publication search into thematic clusters. By submitting the same search directly to the NLM, and categorizing the results obtained according to the purpose and contents of the databases queried. The resulting notebook contains a section for the "top results" from Clusty, and an additional section for each thematic cluster listed. Within each section, a page is created for each link found; after the widget has finished, the corresponding webpages may be loaded by hand one at a time, or all at once by running the "Load MegaSearch Pages" script within NoteTaker.
The results obtained from the NLM are saved in a separate section at the end of the notebook, with a page created for each database containing information on the search topic. The information contained in each of these pages can be loaded into the notebook by using the "checkbox" mechanism provided within each one.
1. A new NoteTaker notebook is created for each new search.
2. Since collecting all the results may take a while (depending upon the speed of your computer and your Internet connection), the notebook returns to the original search page at the end of the search to let you know the process is complete.
3. There will be a brief pause as each section is created, so as to allow the notebook to load the corresponding Clusty or NLM page.
4. Clusty's defaults (10 results per page, 10 clusters displayed) will yield notebooks of around 100 pages in length. Setting the preferences to their maximum (100 results per page, all clusters displayed) will yield notebooks of around 1000 pages in length. These settings can be adjusted by clicking on the "Preferences" link in any Clusty page in the notebook.
5. Even though the default settings are usually fine for basic searches, it is worthwhile exploring the "Limits/Settings" option available on any of the NLM pages - it allows for considerable fine-tuning of the results obtained from the NLM.
6. The NLM server will occasionally not respond to a search, fail to load a search page, or display an error message. If this happens, simply wait a few minutes and try running the search again. A similar response is also sometimes seen from Clusty - again, running the search a second time usually clears up the problem.