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October 23, 1991

Searching Question: On-line or CD-ROM?

Author Affiliations

President, CD Plus New York, NY

President, CD Plus New York, NY

JAMA. 1991;266(16):2223-2224. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03470160055025

Tb the Editor.  —I was surprised to read that a discussion of MEDLINE database searching1 excluded CD-ROM products and technology. Each of the features presented as desirable or attractive by Dr Hogan has been available on CD-ROM or on the locally based MEDLINE systems for at least the last 4 years. Not only do on-line services have a clearly outdated interface (such as single-line display or the inability to search abstracts), but CD-ROM products deliver far more than has ever been expected of on-line database searching and retrieval in the past.Likewise, it was a disservice to your readers for Hogan to imply that a professional searcher or medical librarian is not capable of getting what's needed when searching a medical database.To begin searching on-line, one is required to have a fairly sophisticated understanding of tree structures, indexing, and MESH syntax. Without MESH vocabulary assistance, most on-line searchers