Trip Database Blog

Liberating the literature


February 2019

RCTs in Trip – much improved thanks to RobotReviewer

RCTs are a crucial element of EBM and we’ve had a ‘filter’ for them for years. This allows a user to search and click the ‘Controlled trials’ filter and the results will only show clinical trials.  It’s one of our most used filters.

In the earliest iteration we used our own search filter to identify trials in PubMed and added them to Trip. This was ok, but lots of false negatives (missed trials) and false positives (identified papers as trials which weren’t).  A few years ago we started using the RCTs identified by the wonderful RobotReviewer team.  This used machine learning and made the results dramatically better.

Over the weekend we’ve used the latest version of the RobotReviewer code to make the identification of trials the most accurate yet!  Previously we had identified 479,197 trials but now it’s up to 532,479.  We had thousands of trials labelled as trials which no longer are and thousands we had previously missed. There were also a load of new trials that weren’t in Trip.

This is a brilliant piece of work and we’re indebted to RobotReviewer – thank you.

Summary: We have an easy to search collection of over half a million clinical trials!

Loads of extra full-text and a new results display to celebrate!

Full-text access is really desirable and it’s something we’re always trying to improve on. Up until now Pro users have been able to access full-text only if it exists on PubMed Central. This meant that 38% of all journal articles linked out to full-text.  We’re now working with an external partner who has some very clever technology and now – in some areas – the link out to full-text is over 80%.

We’ve redesigned the results to help people see these full-text options and so here they are:

Old results

New results

So, what are the changes:

  • If you’re a Pro user the link out defaults to the full-text. In the image above this is clearly marked with (full text) after the document title. There is also the option to link to the PubMed abstract.
  • If you’re a Pro user and we haven’t got a full-text link out we signify this with (PubMed) after the document title.
  • We’ve improved the spacing of the results.
  • The links to tweeting, starring etc have been made more obvious and aesthetically better.
  • If you’re a free user you can clearly see if a full-text is available.


The redesigned results is a great improvement while the massive increase in link outs to full-text is phenomenal.

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