All for One…Health for All: The Role of Open Access, Evidence-Based Information to Improve Health for All Species

Guest post by Kristine M. Alpi, MLS, MPH, PhD, AHIP, OHSU Library, Oregon Health & Science University; Tova Johnson, MPH, MA, MLIS, OHSU Library, Oregon Health & Science University; and Heather K. Moberly, MSLS, AHIP, FHEA, PgCert (Vet Ed), University Libraries, Texas A&M University

Physical isolation arising from the COVID-19 pandemic has led many people to increasingly engage with the outdoor environment or bring companion animals into their lives as supports for their physical and mental wellbeing.

This connection among the health of humans, animals, and the environment exemplifies the One Health approach. 

One Health is not new, but it has gained new life amid rising concerns over COVID-19 and the environment in recent years. This model encourages collaboration across disciplines, with experts in human, animal, and environmental health, along with other specialties, to achieve better public health outcomes. While leaders often come from veterinary medicine or public health, anyone committed to keeping the world healthy is a potential partner in One Health. 


Providing high-quality, timely information to the people and professionals who need it most is critical to protecting the health of people, animals, and the environment. The FDA uses the term animal health literacy to provide the public with information about drug and food safety concerns that can have an impact on animals and humans. The joint NLM/FDA resource, DailyMed, includes drug listings approved for either humans or animals.

NLM’s MedlinePlus online health information resource provides robust information on animal-human interactions, but typically with a focus on those that threaten human health such as animal bites or zoonoses (diseases that can be passed between humans and animals). To get information from animal health experts, we can look to information providers such as veterinary educators to provide insights offering the interconnected One Health perspective.

Just as MedlinePlus relies, in part, on health professional societies to provide information on specialized care, veterinary medicine trains specialists in topics ranging from behavior to surgery, and provides information to support decision-making about large and small companion animal healthcare. Animal health information in multiple languages is not centrally coordinated, but the American College of Veterinary Surgeons is one example that offers information in Spanish as well as English.


Beyond personal experiences caring for animals at home or at work, One Health is a critical framework for providing timely, open, high-quality information during times of wildfires and natural disasters that can affect all species. Responding to natural disasters brings together teams who work primarily with humans and teams who typically work with animals. Many veterinary schools provide emergency preparedness education in addition to deploying veterinary emergency teams to respond to emergency situations that may be all species-focused or primarily a human health oriented mission. Central knowledge resources like the American Red Cross also provide apps and information to support people and pets during times of crisis.

Libraries who participate in the NLM-supported Network of the National Library of Medicine are essential resources for people seeking information online from trusted sources. Health sciences librarians, particularly the members of the Medical Library Association’s Animal and Veterinary Information Specialist Caucus, support the health of all species by addressing questions raised by people who live, work, and share the broader environment with companion animals and wildlife. These questions may come to public, community college, and university libraries who rely on free and direct access to high-quality resources written for a variety of audiences.

We recently presented Health Questions for All Species as a free webinar for the Oregon Reference Summit to highlight how to use NLM and other open access, evidence-based resources to address One Health questions. We acknowledged the value of regionally and culturally specific resources for populations who are particularly challenged by certain conditions or environmental exposures, and discussed similarities and differences in human and animal information sources, terminology and readability.

We hope this information expanded your awareness about how NLM and other information resources can promote One Health through an integrated approach to searching and addressing issues that impact humans, animals and our environment.

The One Health Commission is a great place for educational resources for teachers and learners who want to take another step towards Health for All.

Did you learn something new today? What can you do to contribute to One Health?

Kristine M. Alpi, MLS, MPH, PhD, AHIP, OHSU Library, Oregon Health & Science University and Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Population Health & Pathobiology, North Carolina State University.

Tova Johnson, MPH, MA, MLIS, OHSU Library, Oregon Health & Science University.

Heather K. Moberly, MSLS, AHIP, FHEA, PgCert (Vet Ed), Medical Sciences Library and department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Heather is a 2020 recipient of the Friends of the National Library of Medicine’s Michael E. DeBakey Library Services Outreach Award

The NIH Preprint Pilot: A New Experiment for a New Era

Guest post by Kathryn Funk, program manager for NLM’s PubMed Central.

Over the last several months, we have seen an increase in demand from the research and library communities for broader discovery and distribution of COVID-19 related literature, including early results posted as preprints. Preprints are complete, public drafts of scientific documents that are not yet peer reviewed. They are playing a key role in accelerating dissemination of research on the SARS-CoV-2 virus and COVID-19.

Recognizing the growing interest in preprints, NLM is today launching the first phase of the NIH Preprint Pilot, which will test the viability of making preprints searchable in PubMed Central (PMC) and, by extension, discoverable in PubMed, starting with COVID-19 preprints reporting NIH-supported research.

To be clear, NLM is not building a preprint server for NIH investigators, nor are we developing a comprehensive preprint discovery resource. Rather, through this pilot, we plan to add a curated collection of preprints from eligible preprint servers to our established literature resources. In doing so, our goal is to improve scholarly communications by accelerating and expanding the findability of NIH research results.

With the encouragement of NIH leadership, NLM has been exploring ways to leverage its literature databases to help accelerate the discoverability and maximize the impact of NIH-supported research via preprints. The planned pilot builds on guidance released by NIH in March 2017, which encouraged NIH investigators to use preprints and other interim research products to speed the dissemination of research and enhance the rigor of their work through public comments and new scientific collaborations.

Interest at NIH in the potential of preprints to improve scholarly communication long predates the 2017 guidance. As author Matthew Cobb recounts in “The prehistory of biology preprints: A forgotten experiment from the 1960s,”Errett C. Albritton, an administrator in the NIH Office of Research Accomplishments, established an informal network for the circulation of preprints and other scholarly communications by post to the group’s members. Although this initial “experiment” ended in 1967, support for the open sharing of scientific knowledge has continued at NIH through efforts such as the NIH Public Access Policy, which this pilot seeks to now complement.

Phase One Focus: COVID-19

In the first phase of the current pilot, NLM will make use of the NIH Office of Portfolio Analysis COVID-19 Portfolio tool to help identify preprints relating to the SARS-CoV-2 virus and COVID-19 pandemic. NLM will select preprints that either list an NIH-affiliated author or acknowledge NIH grant support. To accelerate discovery, preprints will be loaded and made searchable in PMC and PubMed once identified as in scope, without additional processing.  Standard XML versions will be loaded once the conversion process is completed. This workflow allows for rapid inclusion of preprints in the pilot without asking NIH investigators to separately submit them to PMC.

Recognizing that users come to NLM resources with varying levels of familiarity with scholarly communication practices, we want to make sure that researchers, clinicians, and the public can easily distinguish between preprints and peer-reviewed journal literature. Preprint records in PMC and PubMed will be flagged with large banners that clearly identify them as preprints. The banners will explain that the papers have not been peer reviewed and link to information about the pilot for additional context. Those who want to view only peer-reviewed journal literature will be able to exclude preprint records from search results in PMC using newly created filters.

We’ll closely monitor the early outcomes of the first phase of the pilot as we test and refine our workflows. We hope to be able to expand our scope in the next phase of the pilot to include the full spectrum of NIH-funded research, allow NIH investigators to identify their preprints through simplified reporting in My Bibliography, and establish more automated and faster curation workflows.

NLM will continually monitor the impact of the pilot on the scholarly communications landscape, including how research results are shared, discovered, disseminated, and reported, and evidence of increased awareness and emerging best practices around preprint sharing.

We expect the pilot will run for a minimum of 12 months to give us sufficient time to examine the use of preprints and their importance to scholarly communications in biomedical science. Feedback from stakeholders and lessons learned will inform future NLM efforts related to preprints.

PMC turned 20 in February, and its story over those two decades has been one of innovation, evolution and expansion, as we strive to build a collection at NLM that represents “the intellectual content and diversity of the world’s biomedical literature, data, and other research objects and information” and to foster open science practices. In launching this new preprint experiment in PMC, with an initial focus on COVID-19-related preprints, NLM hopes to continue to accelerate and expand access to relevant research in response to the ongoing public health emergency response efforts and to learn more about the impact of accelerated discovery and open sharing of research results on scholarly communications.

Tell Us What You Think!

We encourage you to learn more about the NIH Preprint Pilot and review the pilot overview and related FAQs.

As this new experiment unfolds, please feel free to send feedback to pmc-preprints@ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.

casual photo of Kathryn Funk
Kathryn Funk is the program manager for PubMed Central. She is responsible for PMC policy as well as PMC’s role in supporting the public access policies of numerous funding agencies, including NIH. Katie received her master’s degree in library and information science from The Catholic University of America.

The New and Improved PubMed® Is Here!

Guest post by the PubMed Team at the National Library of Medicine’s National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Since our last blog post, our coders have been hard at work preparing for the full transition to the new and improved PubMed. The latest features have been added, and beginning May 18, you can experience the new PubMed too!

The new PubMed features a modern interface with enhanced search results, including highlighted text snippets to help you preview an abstract while scanning your results list, and updated web elements for easier navigation. The new Best Match sort order uses advanced machine-learning technology and a new relevance search algorithm to bring you the top-ranked results.

All of these improvements are intended to connect you with the world’s leading sources of biomedical information faster and easier than ever before.

A Great Experience for All Devices

Staying connected is more important than ever. That’s why it was one of our primary goals to deliver the same great experience to mobile as well as desktop devices.

Whether you want to create an RSS feed to keep you up to date, save items to a My NCBI collection, or have your perfectly-crafted search automatically deliver the latest results, the responsive design means you can have it all from your phone and your laptop. In fact, responses from our mobile users were so overwhelmingly positive, we decommissioned the old, separate mobile site this past March.

Same as it Ever Was

Once the new PubMed becomes the default site, your existing links will be automatically redirected — meaning you won’t need to manually update your links to PubMed citations or search results. Your My NCBI saved searches and collections will continue to work in the new PubMed.

Want to Start Learning to Use the New PubMed?

We recognize that even positive changes can be challenging to adapt to, so we added several resources to help you, and the people you support, navigate the new site. From training to technical support, we’ve got you covered.

Please take a minute to read the New PubMed Transition FAQs. This page is likely to answer your general questions about the transition.

Our Trainer’s Toolkit provides you with instructional materials that you can customize and share. Whether you want to learn about the new PubMed for your own use or to train others, this is a great place to start. The series of nine quick tours, each only 1 to 4 minutes long, can be viewed online or embedded in course management software. You’ll also find slide decks, handouts, and webinar recordings all designed for sharing and reuse.

How PubMed® Works is a series of four 90-minute online classes offered by NLM and the National Network of Libraries of Medicine. Recordings will be available for viewing after each session ends for those who can’t attend or would like to view the material again.

The comprehensive PubMed User Guide is available from the homepage and under the “Help” link on every page in PubMed. It starts with a list of frequently asked questions, allowing you to jump to short, easy-to-follow instructions for finding and using your favorite features. As with our other resources, you can copy the text into your own training materials, trifolds, and user guides.

We’re here to help

Click on the green Feedback button on any screen in the new PubMed to write to the help desk. When the Feedback button is retired, the NLM Support Center link will remain on every page in PubMed. That is the best way to let us know what is — and isn’t — working for you.

We’re committed to keeping you informed! Subscribe to the NLM Technical Bulletin and PubMed New and Noteworthy for the latest news and new releases.

We’re just getting started!

We’re always looking for ways to improve PubMed. Just as we’ve done for the past 24 years, we’ll continue to add features and data to stay current as technology, publishing standards, and our users’ needs evolve.

Please think about other ways that NLM can help you, and share your ideas with us.   

Top Row (left to right):
Bart Trawick, PhD, Director, Customer Services Division
Kathi Canese, Program Manager, PubMed
Marie Collins, Technical Information Specialist

Bottom Row (left to right):
Sarah Weis, Technical Information Specialist
Jessica Chan, Online Content Specialist

 

A New and Improved PubMed®

Guest post by Bart Trawick, PhD, director of the Customer Services Division at the National Library of Medicine’s National Center for Biotechnology Information, National Institutes of Health.

NLM’s PubMed has long been recognized as a critical resource for helping researchers, health care professionals, students, and the general public keep current with rapid advances in the life sciences. We are excited to introduce an updated version of PubMed that features an updated design and technology to improve the user experience.

Launched in 1996 as an experimental website, PubMed has provided an easy, effective way to search a large portion of the published biomedical literature free of charge. The importance of PubMed is evidenced by its heavy use. Each day, more than 2 million people use PubMed to search a corpus of more than 30 million abstracts and citations, making it one of the most frequently used U.S. government websites.

While PubMed has always been viewed as a valuable and effective resource, we regularly ask ourselves, “How can we improve it?”

A History of Listening

Over the past 24 years, we have continuously updated and refined PubMed to keep pace with ever-changing information technologies and added features and enhancements to make it easier for users to find relevant information quickly. Along the way, we made two major updates to the web interface (one in 2000 and another in 2010) and introduced a separate mobile version of PubMed, in 2011.

Several important factors make these advances possible: strong leadership at NLM, talented development teams, and publisher partners who provide not only content but also feedback on how to improve the intake and presentation of the content. However, the most important factor is the many users who access PubMed and then take the time to tell us how we can improve it.

Kicking It up a Notch

In early 2017, we launched a comprehensive effort to take PubMed to the next level. Our goal was to transform PubMed into a modern hub with a fast, reliable, intuitive search that connects people to the world’s leading sources of biomedical information.

In order to connect people to the information they seek, you need to have a great retrieval engine. Under the leadership of NLM’s Zhiyong Lu, PhD, and his team, we enhanced the retrieval engine, using advanced machine-learning technology to develop a new relevance search algorithm. This algorithm optimizes the quality of top-ranked results and is used by PubMed’s new Best Match feature for sorting search results.

On the technology side, we have a completely new chassis. We’ve moved to an open-source search platform which our Operations and DevOps teams were critical in moving to the cloud, providing greater scalability and reliability. And to deliver the best possible experience, our front-end developers produced a modern, responsive website that is optimized for the needs of today’s information seeker.

To truly understand the needs of PubMed users — and how best to deliver solutions that meet those needs — we needed you. Together with our friends from 18F, we engaged with a broad array of users; analyzed customer service data; reviewed survey responses; and tested dozens of design solutions and enhancements with expert PubMed users, novices, and everyone in between.

If there was one thing we learned during this effort, it was that our initial assumptions and ideas weren’t always right — reinforcing that we must continue to listen to our users and make iterative improvements.

Trying Out the New PubMed

We invite you to experience the latest version of PubMed for yourself!

  • Are you looking for the most relevant papers in a given area? Try the Best Match sort option.
  • Are you writing a grant proposal or peer-reviewed manuscript? We expect that the Cite button will come in quite handy.
  • Are you a power user constructing a systematic review? The Advanced Search workflow has been updated to be more intuitive and flexible.
  • Do you need to access PubMed while away from your desktop? Your mobile device now provides the same full-featured experience via PubMed’s modern, responsive design.

At the bottom of each page of the new site you will find a green Feedback button. Whether you think the new version of PubMed is the bee’s knees just the way it is, or you have a great insight on how to make it better — we will be waiting to hear from you.

Headshot image of Bart Trawick, PhD

As director of the Customer Services Division, Dr. Trawick works to connect customers with the vast information resources available from NLM’s National Center for Biotechnology Information. He has also worked to support the National Institutes of Health Public Access Policy since its establishment in 2005. Dr. Trawick is a graduate of Texas A&M University and the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

Thanks News Outlets for Getting the PubMed Central Word Out!

How do people find out about PubMed Central?

Some people access NLM’s vast bibliographic resources through our website. Others arrive after a Google search or through platforms such as Ovid MEDLINE. But recently I was reminded that news outlets help people find articles in PubMed Central, too. 

While reading an article about consumer electronics and consumer health, I noticed a link provided by the reporter, which I followed to find the original source material. Low and behold, the link took me back home — to PubMed Central (PMC).

PMC is a free, full-text archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature here at the National Library of Medicine at NIH. Since its inception in 2000, PMC has grown from comprising only two journals, PNAS: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Molecular Biology of the Cell, to an archive of articles from thousands of journals.

Today, PMC contains more than five million full-text records, spanning biomedical and life science research from the late 1700s to the present!

PMC supports the NIH Public Access Policy, ensuring access to publicly-funded biomedical research. It also helps NLM meet one of its fundamental responsibilities, outlined in our 1956 enabling legislation, “to preserve permanently the content of books, periodicals, and other library materials pertinent to medicine.”

PMC is not a publisher and does not publish journal articles itself. Instead, content is added to the archive through collaborations with publishers, scholarly societies, research funders, and international organizations.

In December 2017, we reported that more than one billion articles had been retrieved within a single year. Since then, more than 300,000 articles in PMC now have associated supplemental material, frequently including the data to support their research findings.

Almost two-thirds of the articles come from journals that automatically deposit any article reporting on NIH-funded research or from journals that fall under PMC’s full-participation category. Another 25% or so represents “digitized content,” an important collection of articles that, through a collaboration with the Wellcome Trust, provides online access to thousands of complete back issues of historically significant biomedical journals. And about 10% of the articles are “author manuscripts,” which have been peer-reviewed and accepted for publication in a journal. These manuscripts are deposited directly by authors complying with their funders’ public and open access policy to make funded research results available widely, sometimes after an embargo period.

We’ve long known that PMC is a boon to scholarship and clinical practice, yet I’ve wondered how the general public would find articles in PMC.

Now I know.

Journalists who want to direct readers to the authoritative source of their reporting use PMC to provide the full text of the journal article, bringing the power of NLM to an even wider audience. I’m proud that PMC is viewed as a trusted resource and delighted that we’re reaching the public in this way.