What is SmartSearch?


SmartSearch is a query enhancement system developed by the Lane Medical Library & Knowledge Management Center. It returns a select set of high-value clinical resources. SmartSearch suggestions appear at the top of search results with the heading Have You Tried.

What is it for?

Every time you use Lane Search, we metasearch or "deep search" for your term in hundreds of external databases like PubMed, UpToDate, and specialty textbooks. SmartSearch saves you time by returning highly relevant clinical resources within Lane Search results.

What kinds of resources does it return?

SmartSearch returns electronic resources such as PubMed papers, ClinicalKey, and specialty electronic textbooks from Ovid, AccessMedicine and ClinicalKey. These resources have been carefully selected by Lane medical librarians for their authoritativeness and high relevance to disease diagnosis and treatment. A comprehensive list can be reviewed here.

How does it work?

Every time you use Lane Search, SmartSearch takes the following steps to return metasearch resources relevant to your term:

  1. Lane Search query terms are sent to PubMed, from which a subset of articles associated with the query are retrieved.
  2. SmartSearch extracts MeSH headings associated with each article in the set.
  3. The frequency of headings is computed to map the query term to the most frequently used MeSH heading.
  4. Because resources in Lane's collection have been associated with MeSH headings in advance, SmartSearch can quickly retrieve those related to your query. When it can't make an exact match, SmartSearch traverses up the hierarchy of MeSH terms to find the next best match.

Diagram of SmartSearch Process

Why don't I always see SmartSearch results?

SmartSearch doesn't try to match your search term against the entirety of our electronic collection. We've limited it to a select list of clinical resources we can "deep search" using Lane's metasearch tool.

Didn't see something mapped that you think should be?

Send us feedback ... we're always looking to improve the tools we provide for you.


SmartSearch: automated recommendations using librarian expertise and the National Center for Biotechnology Information's Entrez programming utilities.
Steinberg RM, Zwies R, Yates C, Stave C, Pouliot Y, Heilemann HA.
J Med Libr Assoc. 2010 Apr;98(2):171-5.

Stanford Medicine

Lane Medical Library