February 15, 2005 (Vol. 25, No. 4)
Strong Points: massive dataset
Weak Points: Not an ideal dictionary
If you have any doubts that we scientists speak a language all our own, you’ll lose them after taking a look at the Biomedical Acronym Database. The note on the opening page is eye-popping—the site contains 206,000 of the estimated 224,000 unique acronyms in Medline. Gulp! That’s an entire language embedded in the one we speak. How could anyone reasonably expect to stay on top of such lingo? Fortunately, the Biomedical Acronym Database provides a path to enlightenment, with a simple search engine access. This is not your usual dictionary, however, as it is generated by an automated scanning of Medline and, consequently, the “definitions” frequently do not look like they are out of a dictionary. Perhaps more importantly, the database provides Medline links where users can go for additional info.