Trip Database Blog

Liberating the literature


September 2015

Logging in to use Trip

Earlier this month I asked our users their thoughts on logging in to use Trip.  With hundreds of responses the results were pretty evenly split, half didn’t mind logging in and half thought it was a pain and made them less likely to use the site.  There were two main reasons given for not liking logging in (apart from difficulty remembering passwords):

  1. Health professionals, often jumping from computer to computer, in a busy clinic and simply not having the time to login.
  2. Information specialists trying to demonstrate Trip to users and finding it highly problematic to get all the students to register.

As a result of the feedback, and my own disquiet at forcing login, we have rolled back the login screens and users can get unhindered access to the free site, as of now.

As an extension to the easier access we are currently working on two other changes:

  1. Making registration/login not necessary for institutional subscribers who use IP authentication.  Our system will detect the user is from a subscribing institution and they will get seamless access to the Premium Trip.
  2. Trip has the ability to link to your institutions subscription journals full-text (as opposed to the PubMed abstract). Where we have the IP details of the institution we will seamlessly insert the links to these full-text. This feature is open to both free and Premium users. If you belong to an institution who subscribe to journals and would like to take advantage of this feature then let me know.

These two additional features will be ready in the next two weeks.

Thank you all for your feedback, we asked, you replied in your hundreds, we listened and acted pretty quickly!

Restricting search results by clinical area

Just over three weeks ago I published Clinical area tagging of documents which highlighted a really useful but fairly neglected part of the site.  In short it’s a system that tags documents, by clinical area, as they are added to Trip.  There are multiple clinical areas e.g. cardiology, urology, oncology.  Users can then search for an item of interest and restrict the search results to a given clinical area.

The motivation for this came, many years ago, from a Professor of Anaesthetics I wanted to demonstrate Trip to.  After two weeks of use they reported back, saying that the results were poor.  Further investigation reveals their interested in awareness under anaesthesia and they had searched for ‘awareness‘.  If you repeat the search yourself (click here) you’ll see very few of the results are related to anaesthesia.  However, if you restrict a search of awareness to anaesthesia (click here) the results are really focused and would have impressed the Professor much more!

We’ve recently overhauled and significantly enhanced the tagging process making it even more powerful.  Give it a try and let me know how you get on.

Below is a brief screencast to show you how to use it.

Finally, for those interested in the mechanism of action around the tagging of documents it’s fairly simple.  We have a list of terms associated with each clinical area.  So, words such as cholesterol, hypertension, statins, angina are associated with cardiology.  The number of words used per area varies, but in some clinical areas it’s well over one hundred. If any article in Trip contains any of these words in the title it’s tagged with the appropriate area.  So, an article on hypertension in children, would be tagged as both cardiology and pediatrics.  Due to the nature of the process it can’t be assumed to be perfect, but it is usually very powerful. 

Search safety net (or ‘what have I missed?’)

We’re continuing to discover uses for the clickstream data Trip has and the new use is the search safety net – which we’re currently testing.

The idea is that as you search Trip we note which articles you’ve clicked on and then, using clickstream data, predict other articles that might be related, or those you might have missed (hence the name). See the video embedded below.

There are two issues/problems/challenges:

  1. Lack of data. This only works on clickstream data, so it requires clicks!  Very new articles or obscure articles will not have the data.  As it happens, in the tests we’ve done, it’s been – broadly – really good.  But when we roll it out, it’s something to consider.  
  2. User experience.  This is the biggest challenge is how will users interact with the ‘service’?  In other words where do we put the results?  Do we automatically show them somewhere on the results page?  If so, will that annoy people who don’t want the service?  Alternatively, we create some sort of ‘search safety net’ button which would require a user to click the button.  This means many people will simply not see it and miss out.

Once we solve the user interaction side of things, we’ll roll it out.  In the interim, if you want to give it a try (and be one of the first people to use it) then drop me a line (

Trip Tips – starring items

This is a really simple tip to help you save documents you think are important or you want to come back to.

You need to sign in and simply do a search and ‘star’ any item you’d like to save.  In the image below you can see the position of the stars, to the left of the article titles.  Once starred you can, at any time, click on the ‘Starred items’ link at the top of the page to go back to previously starred items.

If you’re still unsure watch the quick video below.

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