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January 18, 1995

Understanding MeSH for Literature Searches

JAMA. 1995;273(3):184. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520270018014

To the Editor.  —The article by Drs Lowe and Barnett1 is helpful in understanding and using the MeSH vocabulary.We read with particular interest the description of "Publication Types" and "MeSH Subheadings." Unfortunately, the definition and the list of check tags are incomplete.The definition of check tags should specify that this group of MESH terms is mandatory: for example, all citations dealing with the concept of pregnancy must be indexed with the corresponding check tag "PREGNANCY," even if, in some cases, there is a more precise heading such as "PREGNANCY COMPLICATIONS" or "ABORTION."Of the 10 check tags listed in Table 3 by Lowe and Barnett1 that are check tags only, the exhaustive list of check tags must include the terms that are also headings (Table). This list was established with the MeSH vocabulary file, which specifies in the Annotation field for each heading if it is

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