Trip Database Blog

Liberating the literature


January 2022

OpenAthens, a quick update (and LibKey)

Things are going well with our integration of OpenAthens into Trip (as announced at the end of last year). We’re on schedule to test from the end of January with a view of rolling this out in February.

Given this was funded by Health Education England (HEE) we are also tying it in with HEE’s purchase of LibKey for the NHS in England – so the two will be released together. LibKey is a great tool to link users with the full-text subscription their institutions subscribe to. Putting it another way, if your institution subscribes to a journal, Trip can see (via LibKey) if you have access to the article in the search results and insert a link directly to the full-text. It’s quick and seamless. We’ve supported LibKey in Trip for over a year and our users love it. When we roll this out we will automatically be adding the link-out credentials to over 250 new insitutions.

Adding new content to Trip

We have just uploaded the latest – manual – upgrade of content to Trip. Trip has two main wats of importing new content:

  • Automatically
  • Manually

Automatically is the easiest and many sites we use have systems to help support our capture of content, mainly via things called APIs. This accounts for around 80-90% of all our content.

Manually is, unsurprisingly, manual and requires us to visit every site – on a monthly basis – to look for new content. This process has been going on since we launched, nearly 25 years ago and we’ve never missed a single month. However, the task has grown considerably and we now visit around 500 sites every month. This has increased dramatically over the years, when we launched we included less than 25 sites. Manual updating takes a week, when before it could be done in less than a day.

This month we added 580 new articles from a large number of global sites, including:

  • WHO
  • NICE (UK)
  • Prescrire (France)
  • ACOG (USA)
  • Public Health Ontario (Canada)
  • RCOG (UK)
  • SBU (Sweden)
  • Public Health Wales (Wales)
  • Agency for Care Effectiveness (Singapore)
  • EMA (Europe)
  • Scottish Medicines Consortium (Scotland)
  • FDA (USA)
  • Canadian Paediatric Society (Canada)
  • James Lind Alliance (UK)
  • National Health Care Institute (Netherlands)
  • Norwegian Institute of Public Health (Norway)
  • Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (Australia and NZ)

The earliest monthly upload I can find is from June 2009 and it’s interesting to see how many of the publishers have fallen by the wayside e.g. Centre for Reviews and Dissemination , NHS EED, Health Protection Agency, NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency, PedsCCM (Note, many are still actually in existence, they’re just not producing the content they used to)!

3-4 weeks off – doing other essential Trip work – till we start the process again. As long as new content is published, we’ll be grabbing it.

A brief look back over 2021 and a look forward

From a Trip perspective 2021 work was led by continued work on the new site. Trip has grown over the years with much of the code very old and very muddled. It was becoming increasingly difficult to maintain and we made a decision to recode the site in 2019! As part of that we took on a new main developer (Abrar) who was supported by Phil (our long-standing developer).

The new site was released as a beta (test) version in April 2021 and fully released in July. It has proved to be remarkably resilient with hardly any issues. This is amazing given the size and complexity of the site.

With all the work going on in the background, Trip has continued to help users to find great evidence. We’ve had millions of searches over the year supporting care across the globe. We’re continuing to attract new subscribers, both organisational and individual – a great sign for the future.


Covid-19 dominated the headlines and, since Jan 2020 (first search was 14/01/2020 for ‘Wuhan coronavirus’), Trip had over 550,000 specific search sessions on the topic. Supplying higher quality research evidence, Trip’s focus, was as valuable as ever.

Linked to that, one related topic is that I’m starting to try to make sense of the clickstream data (see Covid-19 search trends, is there a paper in this data?). I’ve no idea where that journey will take me (but feel free to help)!


The release of the new site in 2021 was only part of the story. What we released was the front end of the site – the bit users interact with. Since then we have been working solidly on the back end – the bit responsible for grabbing and processing the content that is added to the search index. Again, a hugely complex task but we’re getting there. And, hopefully, that’ll be switched on sometime between March and May (users shouldn’t notice)!

After that we can start to introduce the improvements that I’ve wanted to see for years but have been put off as we recode the site. Early releases will hopefully be the guideline scoring work, the improvement to search sensitivity and specificity and a revamped advanced search.

25th Anniversary of Trip.

2022 also marks the 25th year of Trip’s existence. I have no idea when it was went live on the internet (previously it was an excel spreadsheet) and the Internet Archive doesn’t help. So, that’s a bit of a damp squib. If we get any time to think we may try to do something to commemorate!

Bye Bye to the NHS

On a personal level, at the end of March 2021, I left the National Health Service (after nearly 30 years). My final job being Lead for Knowledge Mobilisation at Public Health Wales. It’s nice to now be able to concentrate more of my time on Trip.

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