Faced with an unprecented growth in available knowledge it is now almost impossible for the doctor, whether in clinical practice or engaged in research, to keep abreast of current developments. Both the research worker and the clinician would benefit greatly from ready access to papers dealing with their areas of interest. Most have experienced the sense of frustration that arises from knowing that somewhere one has seen a piece of information, but one does not quite know where. The human brain as a storage system is poorly organized and as a retrieval system is chancy at best (Ann. Int. Med., 1967). What is needed is some aid to memory. To obtain an estimate of the magnitude of one aspect of the problem I reviewed papers I published in 1965–66. The total number was thirty‐two, the average number of references per paper nineteen and the total number of references cited was 595. This, however, is only the tip of the iceberg and represents only a fraction of the references to be reviewed. It was obvious that some form of automated literature retrieval system was desirable if not essential, and it is the purpose of the present paper to report my experiences of such a system.
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