MEDLINE citation tool accuracy: an analysis in two platforms




Auto-citation generator, librarians, information literacy, citation on demand, biomedical databases, PubMed, Ovid MEDLINE


Background: Libraries provide access to databases with auto-cite features embedded into the services; however, the accuracy of these auto-cite buttons is not very high in humanities and social sciences databases. 

Case Presentation: This case compares two biomedical databases, Ovid MEDLINE and PubMed, to see if either is reliable enough to confidently recommend to students for use when writing papers. A total of 60 citations were assessed, 30 citations from each citation generator, based on the top 30 articles in PubMed from 2010 to 2020.

Conclusions: Error rates were higher in Ovid MEDLINE than PubMed but neither database platform provided error free references.The auto-cite tools were not reliable. Zero of the sixty citations examined were 100% correct. Librarians should continue to advise students not to rely solely upon citation generators in these biomedical databases.

Author Biographies

Laurel Scheinfeld, Senior Assistant Librarian, Health Sciences Library, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY

Senior Assistant Librarian, Health Sciences Library, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY

Sunny Chung, Senior Assistant Librarian, Health Sciences Library, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY

Sunny Chung, MLIS, is a Health Sciences Librarian at the Stony Brook University Health Sciences Library, where she serves as the Liaison to the School of Nursing and Program in Public Health. Sunny is a member of the Community and Outreach Working Group, which partners with student association groups, participates in University events (such as Pet Therapy Day), and creates banners promoting the Library’s events on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and the Library’s website. She has worked previously as a  Medical Librarian at NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine. Sunny holds a Master of Library and Information Science from Queens College, City University of New York (CUNY). She is an active member of the Liberty Chapter of MLA, and she has also presented at the annual meeting. In addition, she currently serves on the board of the Medical and Scientific Libraries of Long Island (MEDLI) as Vice President/President-Elect. 


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Case Report