In the “multi-line” vs “single line” searches debate, one point that is often thrown around is: multi-line searches are more cumbersome to edit and run. Even with Ovid’s new “edit” button, it still takes a few clicks and a few page refreshes to edit a strategy and see the results. When making lots of changes quickly to a strategy, this time can really add up.
One underappreciated and little known tool is Ovid’s mutli-line launcher. It’s beautiful! The multi-line launcher allows a user to copy/paste a multi-line strategy directly into the search box, press enter, and view the search results – with hits for each line – as normal.
When making edits to a strategy I tend to do the following:
paste the strategy into the multi-line launcher box
ensure that the line numbers are still correct or changed if needed
Have you ever been asked to find a random set of citation from EndNote? This happens most often to me when researchers are testing out screening procedures, and want to ensure they are all interpreting the screening guidelines the same way. The researchers will all screen the same random set of 10-20 articles and compare results before screening the entire set.
So: what’s the best way to go about this? Sorting from a-z on any given field and selecting the top 10-20 articles isn’t likely to be truly random. For example, sorting by date will retrieve only very new or old articles. Sorting by record number is one possible way to do it, but also isn’t truly random as it will retrieve articles added to the database most or least recently.
Here’s how I take a truly random sample of citations from EndNote.
First, create an output filter in EndNote
The output filter will include only the citation record numbers. Don’t worry, you only have to do this once, and in the future it will all be set up for you!
In EndNote, go to Edit –> Output Styles –> New Style
In the resulting screen, click “templates” under the heading “bibliography”
Then, put your curser in the box below “generic”. Then, click “insert field” –> “Record Number” –> then press enter so that you curser goes to the next line in the text box.
Go to “file” –> “save as” and save it to something descriptive like “record-number-only”.
Next, export your record numbers.
Back in the main EndNote screen, click the dropdown box at the top of the screen, then “select another style”, and search for your previously created Output Style.
Then click “choose”. Ensure that your output style name is displaying in the dropdown box!
Select “all references” to make sure all your references (that you want to create a subset from) are displayed. Then click one of the references and press ctrl + a (or cmd + a on a mac) to select all references.
Right-hand click and select “copy formatted”.
Create your random subset!
Open excel, and press ctrl + v (or cmd + v on a mac) to paste all your record numbers.
in the cell to the right of your first record number, insert the formula =rand(). This will create a random number from 0 to 100.
Hover the cursor over the bottom-right corner of the cell until it makes a cross. Then click and drag all the way down to the last row that contains a record number
Insert a row at the top and click “sort & filter” –> “filter” on the menu bar.
Then, sort the second row (with the random numbers) from smallest to largest (or largest to smallest).
You now have a randomly sorted list! Select and copy the top x number of cells in the first column (however large you want your sample to be).
Format your record numbers to put back into EndNote.
Paste your subset of record numbers into word (paste as text, not a table!)
Click “replace” on the main toolbar to bring up the find and replace box.
Beside the box “find what”, write ^p (the up-carrot symbol followed by “p”).
Beside the box “replace with”, insert a semi-colon followed by one space.
Then click “replace all”.
You should have a string of record numbers separated by semi-colons.
Put them back into EndNote!
Go back to your EndNote Library.
Right-hand click in the sidebar and select “create smart group”
Give it a nice title, like “random set” 😃
In the first dropdown box, select “record number”, then “word begins with”, then paste in your formatted record numbers separated by semi-colons.
I hope you found this useful. It might sound complicated, but this process really only takes a few seconds once you have gone through it a few times.
Do you have a more efficient or a different way of doing it? What kinds of formatting and database problems do you come across in your position? Feel free to send me a message or tweet at me.
Til next time,
— POSTSCRIPT —
I was asked recently on Twitter how to isolate the remainder of citations for screening after using this method. It’s very easy!
To isolate the rest of your citations, simply make a combination group by doing the following:
First, create a new group in EndNote calls “All Refs”, and drag ALL your citations from the library into it by going to “All References”, selecting all by clicking ctrl/cmd + A, and dragging them into your new group.
Right-hand click on “My Groups” in EndNote, then click “Create From Groups”. Name this group “remainder to screen”, or something else that makes sense to you.
In the first drop-down menu, select your “All Refs” group.
Then select “NOT” from the boolean operators dropdown menu.
Then select the group that holds your random subset in the second dropdown menu.
Did you know that Ovid’s search bar can be used like a command line? Its most common use is to type in search queries, but it can also be used to execute several time-saving commands.
Each command is preceded by two dots (..). These are what tell the database that you don’t want to search for terms, but do something different. Remember that there is no space between the two dots (..) and the command!
Part 1: Save and execute searches
..sv ps(search name) will save your search permanently. For example, “..sv ps(Heart-Disease)” (without the quotes) to save the current search. The parenthesis are important — without them, the search will only be saved temporarily (24 hours). I like to periodically type in the same command above while working to save any updates to the search that I’m working on.
..e <saved search name> will execute a search. For example, if you have a saved search called Heart-Disease, type “..e Heart-Disease” (without the quotes) to execute the search.
..pg all to clear the search history. If your search is saved, it will stay saved, but this allows you to clear the slate and start something new. Similarly, use “.. pg #,#” (without the quotes) to purge specific lines.
..dedup # to remove any duplicates from a specific line in the search history.
..ps to view the entire search history in a printable format
Part 2: Look up information about MeSH
..scope <subject heading> will look up the scope note for the indicated subject heading. For example “..scope heart diseases” (without the quotes).
..tree <subject heading> will look up the subject heading in the tree hierarchy. For example, “..tree heart diseases” (without the quotes).
..sh <subject heading> to look up the subheading selection window for the subject heading.
(Note: The three commands above can be used with out without the dot dot (..) syntax preceding the command. I like to use it for all commands for consistency).
I hope you find these commands as useful as I do. If you can master these, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a database master (and also wow those around you with you efficient navigating ability!).