An article from last week’s Guardian – Top of the heap.

A very interesting look at user preferences for search results. Apparently, on Google the top result gets 42% of the clickthroughs while the second result gets 11%. As the article points out the top two results account for over half the click throughs. The article proceeds to expand on this phenomenon.

Is this replicated in TRIP? I have no idea and no mechanism, as yet to measure it. I would like to think our users are more ‘discerning’. However, it does emphasise the need to continually improve on our search algorithm. Getting the best results at the top. We do a pretty good job but I would not say perfect, so there is still work to do.

When I worked, on a daily basis with GPs (family physicians) one particularly cynical one told me that if he searched he’d pick the first article that supported his hunch. Since hearing that (probably 8+ years ago) I have come to appreciate the problems faced by clinicians searching for clinical literature. They generally haven’t got time to do a full literature search, they haven’t time to appraise etc. This theme “please no more training on searching and appraising, just answer our questions for us” is still as strong today as it was when ATTRACT started. However, it also reinforces that if s/he does search then they need the ‘good stuff’ at the top.

How one defines the ‘good stuff’ needs considering another day.