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Dedication to science drives a 20-year relationship between an information expert and a distinguished researcher

Posted on February 20th, 2020 by in Pharma R&D

With about 600 articles published in major dermatology journals, almost 40 books authored, 70 chapters in various books, and a h-index of 49, Dr. Robert Baran is one of the most knowledgeable dermatologists in the world. He began publishing more than 67 years ago, is invited to many international conferences every year, and his specialty is nails.

He’s the one to ask about nail diseases and their therapies, and is one of the more active researchers in this field (Scopus mentions 7200+ citations and 380+ co-authors). He has membership in many societies (not the least of which is the American Academy of Dermatology as Honorary Member), and serves on many editorial or advisory boards.

Literature to the rescue

Dr. Baran is also a practitioner and leads the Nail Diseases Center in Cannes, France, balancing his life between research and patient care. But he has a challenge: he has no access to research facilities, such as a general hospital. How does he manage this issue? Literature is the answer. His office, where he writes his publications, is a real library, devoted to dermatology, with thousands of references: articles, reviews, pre-prints, books, abstracts of congresses, notes, and so on.

Delivering the nail bibliography

For decades, Dr. Baran has relied on information professionals to survey what happens in the field of several subjects that he is interested in. And I’m one of them. I have been helping Dr. Baran for almost 20 years, ever since I was a scientific information expert at a pharmaceutical company, devoted in dermatology. Now I serve as a customer consultant at Elsevier.

Every month, I provide Dr. Baran with the ‘nail bibliography’, a survey of the biomedical literature, focused on the nail and its diseases. Dr. Baran wants it to be quite detailed, to be sure we do not miss any important papers (clinical trials, opinions, new cases, etc.). To meet his needs, I have created a broad search strategy that covers Dr. Baran’s favorite subjects, such as onychomycosis. He receives an alert, every month, and then selects the relevant references.

How Embase helps

In this effort, I have always used Embase and MEDLINE, and, for 10 years now, This is for several reasons, the first one being the coverage. Dr. Baran needs a deep understanding and coverage of the literature. He has an impressive comprehensive memory and understanding of the literature in dermatology, and is still eager to learn more and more—that is how he produces such a high-level work.

That is why combining the coverage of MEDLINE and Embase is mandatory. On average, in, the unique Embase content represents about 28% of the database, MEDLINE stands for 28%, and 44% of the content is covered by both databases.

For the ‘nail bibliography’, 34% of the references are from the unique Embase content, which is meaningfully more than the expected average. That is why covering Embase and MEDLINE is valuable. allows us to address both with a single request, using the Embase vocabulary, the Emtree thesaurus. This is another reason why I utilize it enables me to create a single search strategy that combines Emtree terms and free text words to broadly cover the subject. Emtree terms focus on very specific concepts, such as onycholysis or paronychia. Free text words help to cover the records that were very recently added to and that are still in process.

Getting automatic alerts

Once the search strategy is designed, helps to automatically manage email alerts. So, each month, I receive an email, and then I log into to screen the bibliography—a task that is easier with the clipboard and export feature. The search strategy can be modified or improved at any time, according to the needs of Dr. Baran.

This emblematic example illustrates the usefulness of a tool with a very broad content and advanced search functions. In the hands of a scientific information expert, it makes it possible to best meet the needs of the most demanding researchers.

Check out now for yourself, or contact me if you want to know more about Embase and how it can help your research.

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