May 27, 2022

Controlled Vocabularies: A New Interactive Research Tool: Yale MSH Analyzer

2015-11-02_14-31-43This new online resource (free) was introduced about two weeks ago at the North Atlantic Health Sciences Library (NAHSL) Annual Meeting in Providence, RI.

It’s being made available by Yale University’s Cushing/Whitney Medical Library.

MeSH stands for medical subject headings. They’re issued and maintained by the National Library of Medicine.

Direct to Yale MeSH Analyzer

What Does the Analyzer Do?

From the Help Page:

When conducting a comprehensive search, it is critical to design a strategy that retrieves all potentially relevant articles. Experienced searchers know the power of using controlled vocabularies but also the frustration of not being able to pinpoint articles known to be relevant but missing from the initial retrieval set.

Librarians have long analyzed MeSH terms to design and refine searches. A MeSH analysis grid can help identify the problems in your search strategy by presenting the ways articles are indexed in the MEDLINE database in an easy-to-scan tabular format. Typically, each column in the grid represents an article, with identifying information of the article at the top of the column, such as the PMID, the author, and the year of publication. The Medical Subject Headings are sorted and grouped alphabetically for ease of scanning. Librarians can then easily scan the grid and identify appropriate MesH terms, term variants, indexing consistency, and the reasons why some articles are retrieved and others are not. This inevitably leads to fresh iterations of the search strategy to include missing important terms.

In addition to MeSH terms, author-assigned keywords, article titles, and abstracts can be included in the analysis.

More About the Analyzer From a NAHSL Conference Roundup by Hongjie Wang:

“The Yale MeSH Analyzer,” a new web-based search tool introduced at the meeting’s Contributed Papers Session by Holly Grossetta Nardini and Lei Wang, took us all by storm. This excellent MeSH Analyzer saves time as it “automatically retrieves the metadata necessary for search analysis, and creates a grid that visually explains the search process” to the users. The excellence of such a creation can only be matched by the moment of the unbridled excitement and hearty approval when the whole room vibrated with the audience clapping and echoed with loud chants of “bravo!”

Read the Complete Blog Post

Direct to Yale MeSH Analyzer

Hat Tip and Thank You: Matt R. Weaver

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.