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PubMed searches by Dutch-speaking nursing students: The impact of language and system experience



This study analyzes the search behavior of Dutch-speaking nursing students with a nonnative knowledge of English who searched for information in MEDLINE/PubMed about a specific theme in nursing. We examine whether and to what extent their search efficiency is affected by their language skills. Our task-oriented approach focuses on three stages of the information retrieval process: need articulation, query formulation, and relevance judgment. The test participants completed a pretest questionnaire, which gave us information about their overall experience with the search system and their self-reported computer and language skills. The students were briefly introduced to the use of PubMed and MeSH (medical subject headings) before they conducted their keyword-driven subject search. We assessed the search results in terms of recall and precision, and also analyzed the search process. After the search task, a satisfaction survey and a language test were completed. We conclude that language skills have an impact on the search results. We hypothesize that language support might improve the efficiency of searches conducted by Dutch-speaking users of PubMed.