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As a medical librarian, I am often asked to comment about what to use, Google or PubMed? My recommendation is always to learn how to use both - but keep in mind that they are vastly different tools, with different benefits and limitations. Doctors should know what some of those are given their information needs.
When do you use Google? Google is great for many types of searching activities. First, it's a great browsing tool, for looking up quick facts and finding a quick article. Powerful and fast, Google searches across the Web -- about 100,000,000,000 (billion) pages! -- in less than a second. That's impressive by any search standard. While large in size, Google is not complete - no where near it. For a more accurate view of medicine, you are better off searching PubMed; it is more accurate, tightly-focussed and filters using proper indexing and evidence-based principles.
Other problems with Google and Google scholar? Search results in Google are based on popularity, with some of the most relevant results located many screens down from the first. That's a problem if you have limited time to sift through results. While Google and Google scholar point to PubMed citations, don't be fooled - the only way to find relevant medical research is to search PubMed properly. Think of Google as a supplement not a replacement for PubMed, ever.
Use Google and other search tools with care, the same care you use in other aspects of your practice. Finding the best evidence in medicine is an important skill, so if you need to learn how to do that - I encourage you to consult a qualified medical librarian in your local hospital library, or university library.
OK, you can e-mail me, also.
Dean Giustini, OM blogger
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