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Computed author in PubMed

 The  redesign  of PubMed is here and its innovations in their  search algorithm . Already in November of last year I did a  review of the first changes  that were announced.

Here is a reminder as a quick review about the search that PubMed does: when we enter a term or phrase in the PubMed search box, it applies  Automatic Term Mapping (ATM) , which consists of a translation of the term according to some predefined tables. It compares the term in each of the tables and stops the ATM as soon as it finds a match. The first table is  Subject Translation Table  (as a novelty: check our term according to British and American spelling, look for its singular and plural; in addition to the usual: add synonyms, look for its MeSH, subheadings, publication types…). The second table is  Journals Translation Table (Check that the term corresponds to the title or issn of a magazine). Finally compare the term with the  Authors Translation Table .

3 PubMed ATM translation tables

I want to stop at the part of the authors. PubMed collects an index of authors since 1946 with the format  last name <space> initial of the name . Starting in 2002, it also began to collect the developed form of the name (full surname and full name, not just the initial). For this reason, when we do a search in PubMed and select the Abstract display option  , we see that the names of the authors are expanded (as long as the articles are after 2002).

Author name comparison before and after 2002.

The most effective way to  search for an author  is by using the old format of the surname <space> initial of the name, because in this way we make sure to also retrieve articles prior to 2002. Another way to search is by clicking on the author that interests us and that we see listed in a reference. This will cause PubMed to show us a results page with all the articles it considers to be from this selected author. And how does PubMed know that a last name and initial correspond to a specific author and not to another with whom it shares that data?

Computed Author

This functionality was introduced by PubMed in 2012 and is intended to aid  disambiguation of authors' common names . If PubMed finds a similar author name for other citations, those will be listed first in order of importance, followed by non-similar citations. The disambiguation process compares citations with the same author name. The similarity of each pair of citations is measured by the metadata of both citations (co-authors, journals, affiliation…). The citations that share names of similar authors are divided into different groups grouping the citations that are very similar to each other. Citations within each group are classified as belonging to the same author. This began to be implemented in 2012, coinciding with the appearance of  ORCIDIf the ORCID id is included in the metadata, it will be information that PubMed will use to disambiguate and be able to offer all articles by an author when searching. What conclusions do we draw from this? First, that all authors should have a profile in ORCID and always sign the same. Second, that all publishers should ask authors who publish in their journals for the ORCID id. Third, that these publishers should include this data within the metadata of the file that is sent to PubMed for indexing.

During these first months of the year in which PubMed was making adjustments to its new interface, I happened to come across the Computed Author option within the results sorting section. I suppose they would be doing tests because finally they did not leave the option in the drop-down (I understand that after selecting that option you would have to sort in ascending or descending alphabetical order), but I did have time to take a screenshot:

Computed Author as a Sort by option in new PubMed

Finally, I take the opportunity to advertise the  online course  that we are preparing for June 10, 2020.  Improve your bibliographic searches with PubMed . It is a 4-hour online course that we will teach from  AlterBiblio . You have more information about content, price and registration at this link: course pre-registration  Improve your bibliographic searches with PubMed .