Many searchers ask about the efficacy of using Web Scale Discovery (WSD) tools to search the health sciences literature. You may have noticed that NYU promotes EDS (Ebsco Discovery Service) on our main databases page.
Should you use this tool?
- For most keyword searches in the health sciences, many thousands of hits are retrieved. For a very obscure, very new, or very narrow topic, the results may be useful and manageable, as in the following examples:
- Example: I am seeking an Author, Valeria Esquivel, 17 results on 12/2/2016.
- Example: I am seeking an article with a known Title phrase: “hills are alive with the sound of music” 205 results on 12/2/2016.
- Example: I know Kovner published about “novice nurses” in a scholarly journal in 2016. A search: Kovner novice nurses 2016 limited to scholarly journals= 28 hits on 12/2/2016.
- The EDS tool lacks the filtering functionality of CINAHL, Pubmed, PsycINFO and others (the ability to limit by study methodology, e.g., a clinical trial, an RCT or systematic review, etc.). A keyword search might retrieve highly relevant hits on the first few pages of results, but a comprehensive search of the evidence for a topic leaves the searcher wondering what might be buried or missing in the next thousands of results!
- The EDS tool does some mapping to standard vocabularies, but novice searchers often use one search term when they should consider synonyms. Specialized health sciences databases assist searchers to translate synonyms.
- No single search tool or database is comprehensive. While EDS promises to search among “more than 7 million+ scholarly journals, magazines, news & more,” like googlescholar or google it doesn’t include every published source. Always use several databases, and of course, ask a librarian for help.
- The best strategy is to go ahead and try it! But use web-scale discovery tools as an adjunct to a more rigorous and tailored search in specialized recommended core databases linked here.