Trip Database Blog

Liberating the literature


July 2011

Link resolving

For a while now we’ve been exploring linking to full-text articles (currently we only link to abstracts of primary research articles).  It’s an area I have little technical experience in and have allowed myself to avoid the issue.  In the latest version of TRIP (out next week) we’re extracting the DOI for journal articles (and Cochrane), but this is only part of the issue.

To link to a full-text requires an additional step – it requires a link resolver! Trying to keep things simple, it tells the system where to point the full-text request to (ie send the person to Wiley, Ebsco etc).  We’re looking to introduce this and I’m fairly confident we can do it!  It should work like this:

  • We extract the DOI for an article – which we’ve done already!
  • An institution tells TRIP which full text holdings it has (e.g. NEJM, Thorax etc) and also some details of their link resolver.
  • A user comes to TRIP from a given institution and carries out a search and we display a full-text link to all articles the user has full-text access to.  They click on the link and they’ve got access to the full-text (based on an authentication system).

So, to my mind, the hard work lies with the librarian who needs to tell us what full-text holdings they have!  The rest seems relatively straightforward – I must be missing something.

But, bottom line, does easy linking out to full-text excite people?

The future of TRIP

For those of you who follow TRIP you’ll know that I frequently reveal our lack of money.  It’s something I’ve got used to and learnt to live with.  I like to think of myself as an innovator and product developer, as opposed to a businessman.  I’m not great at the latter, I don’t like asking for money!  However, we’ve survived for over ten years and are still financially viable (I was going to say strong, but that’d be a slight exaggeration)!  What we’ve achieved with a small budget has been spectacular and part of me thinks that being kept hungry keeps the pressure on me to innovate.

But, I do occasionally fret over the lack of business development. I do wonder what we could do with a decent budget.  I do have a realistic set of ideas/innovations that would make TRIP significantly better.  I do think I could make TRIP the Google for medicine – the first port of call when clinicians have knowledge needs.

So, when I was approached 4-6 weeks ago by someone interested in helping TRIP on the business side, I was excited (and apprehensive).  We had some great chats and interesting exchanges of emails.  I’m thinking the approach may well have stalled but I’m not dispondent and that’s for the following reasons:

  • I learnt an awful lot during the due diligence process.  I received numerous pieces of advice – all free – around various aspects of business, including corporate structure.  I’ve come out of this stronger and more confident than before. 
  • As a result of one thread of advice I’ve been introduced to a venture capital firm.  This relationship isn’t necessarily about raising finance, it’s more about exploring options and business models.

With the new version of TRIP due before the end of the month and all this excitement around business development I can’t help but be excited about the future.  I doubt I’ll ever be a businessman but as long as I keep enjoying my business that’s fine by me 🙂

TILT and learning points

TILT is our shared learning experiment which allows for clinicians to record and share learning they may have experienced.  We’ve now had over 850 TILTs so it’s getting a useful resource.

Reading today’s BMJ there’s an article on postural hypotension which has a great section called ‘Learning points’.  These are not new but it occurred to me how close TILT is to the concept of learning points.  In other words, what is the take home message from the article.  It’s different from simply the conclusion as it’s more nuanced.  So, two TILTs I added (out of a total of four) are:

Whenever I make connections between concepts (in this case TILT and learning points) it makes me contemplate things.  Is TILT too niche?  Should we automatically grab all learning points from BMJ articles?  Why not try and create a database of everything we know – so TILTs, learning points and conclusions.

These issues and othes like it represent challenges, real and important.  This is why I love doing what I do.

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