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askMEDLINE: a free-text, natural language query tool for MEDLINE/PubMed

Paul Fontelo*, Fang Liu and Michael Ackerman

BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2005, 5:5  doi:10.1186/1472-6947-5-5

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Lack of standard methods for evaluation of askMedline

Julio Bonis   (2005-03-16 13:00)  Research Group on Biomedical Informatics IMIM (

In the paper of Fontelo et als, a information retrieval system is described.

The objective that the authors aim to reach is clever and important for

allowing the practice of Evidence Based Medicine.

However, the criteria for evaluation and validation of the tool is in some

way esoteric, and does not fit with the standar criteria for information

retrieval systems evaluation.

Specifically, the authors do not refer to the precision of the system as is

described eslewhere[1]. It could be desiderable to know, at least the mean

of the precision of the system for the testing set (POEMs and CAT), in order

to be able to compare with other information retrieval systems.

In conclusion, I miss some of the standard methods for information retrieval

evaluation in the, in the other hand very well oriented, work of Fontelo P

et als.

Conflicts of interest: None.

Julio Bonis MD

Research Group on Biomedical Informatics (

Biomedical Research Park of Barcelona (

Barcelona - Spain

1 - Kagolovsky Y, Moehr JR. Current status of the evaluation of information

retrieval. J Med Syst. 2003 Oct;27(5):409-24.

Competing interests



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