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January 18, 1995

Understanding MeSH for Literature Searches-Reply

Author Affiliations

University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, Pa
Massachusetts General Hospital Boston

JAMA. 1995;273(3):184-185. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520270018015

In Reply.  —It was not our intention to suggest that one should use only MeSH when searching MEDLINE. While there are many circumstances in which this approach will produce acceptable results, there are, as Mr Fremer points out, circumstances when one needs to also search the MEDLINE Title and Abstract fields. A general strategy might be to search first using MeSH terms, review the citations retrieved, and if it is felt that the retrieval is incomplete, then to repeat the search using a combination of MeSH and free-text terms. While no indexing system is perfect, it is generally accepted that the National Library of Medicine's indexing of MEDLINE with MeSH "probably represents the state of the art in manually indexed databases."1Dr Darmoni states that MeSH check tags are mandatory. However, they are mandatory only in the sense that the indexer must scan every article for the tag's applicability,

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