05 December 2012

MedNar: Free Federated Searching

Holiday rush is just around the corner and although that often means work is one of the last things on people's mind it (unfortunately) doesn't actually disappear.  I've posted before that there's no single search tool (database, engine etc.) that covers it all, despite appearances, so being comprehensive in your search can be quite a difficult and lengthy task.  I also often get people asking about what the easiest way to search across many different databases and resources and in the Library world we call that a federated search.  Last year I also posted about a tool called iMediseach which I absolutely love and use on a regular basis: it searches grey literature with ease and although not a perfect or single solution is an absolute must on your bookmarks list.

Another tool like this that I came across the other day is called MedNar, a federated search tool searching commercial websites, government resources, National Institute of Health resources (US), medical societies and patent sources.

The look and feel of the MedNar site is clean and easy to use, very much like Google, and although you can use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) you can type your query in what we Librarians also like to call 'natural language' (essentially how you would search Google).  The results appear by relevancy to your search term and can be narrowed by date, author publication, source etc.  You can also check off results , save print or email them or create an automated alert for your search when the results update. Overall it's a pretty handy tool to have and definitely will be added to my own ammo of info resources.

One major thing to remember is that federated searching is not as good as searching each resource individually, you loose the control and depth of a search when you do so across multiple different resources. Nevertheless, in the health care environment, or even the holiday season when time is at    a minimum it's always good to have a quick and easy option (tailored to the healthcare field) at your fingertips that you can reply on more than a generic search engine!

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