Original Publication
Open Access

Critical Synthesis Package: University of Michigan Search Assessment Tool for Ovid Medline (UMMSA)

Published: May 14, 2014 | 10.15766/mep_2374-8265.9801

Included in this publication:

  • Critical Analysis of the University of Michigan Search Assessment Tool for Ovid Medline.pdf
  • UMMSA-Medline Search Assessment Tool.pdf

To view all publication components, extract (i.e., unzip) them from the downloaded .zip file.

Editor's Note: This publication predates our implementation of the Educational Summary Report in 2016 and thus displays a different format than newer publications. It is also part of a discontinued collection that focused on the presentation of health sciences education assessment tools and their reported validity data.


This Critical Synthesis Package contains: (1) a Critical Analysis of the University of Michigan Search Assessment Tool for Ovid Medline (UMMSA), and (2) a copy of the UMMSA instrument and scoring instructions developed by Gurpreet Rana, MLIS.

The UMMSA is designed to evaluate a user’s search strategy in the Ovid interface to MEDLINE for completeness and appropriateness of retrieval. The UMMSA is simple to administer, and utilized by comparing a saved search strategy to a “gold standard” search and scoring the results against 13 individual items. The UMMSA appears well-suited for use by librarians and medical educators who are interested in quantifying the search skills of their students. Indeed, one advantage of this instrument is that its ease of administration means that it could readily be incorporated into an existing search skills exercise. One potential issue is that the UMMSA was developed specifically for the Ovid interface to MEDLINE. Ovid, while common in medical libraries, is certainly not the only interface to MEDLINE available. The basic approach of “step by step” searching with a particular emphasis on Medical Subject Headings is shared by other commercial interfaces, so the UMMSA should prove easily adaptable to environments that use those products. The UMMSA could serve a valuable role in any number of evidence-based medicine education contexts. It would be useful if future enhancements included the ability to assess searches done in PubMed as well.

Educational Objectives

  1. To describe the purpose and basic properties of the University of Michigan Search Assessment Tool for Ovid Medline (UMMSA);
  2. To describe the application of the UMMSA to the field of health sciences education;
  3. To evaluate the relative strengths and weaknesses of the UMMSA; and
  4. To provide the UMMSA and supplemental materials to aid in its administration.

Author Information

  • Edwin Sperr, Jr., MLIS: St. George's University

None to report.

None to report.


Sperr, Jr. E. Critical synthesis package: University of Michigan search assessment tool for Ovid Medline (UMMSA). MedEdPORTAL. 2014;10:9801. https://doi.org/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.9801