The Editorial Executive Committee welcomes letters, which should be less than 250 words. Before a decision to publish is made, letters which refer to a published article may be sent to the author for a response. Any letter may be sent to an expert for comment. When letters are published, they are usually accompanied in the same issue by their responses or comments. The Committee screens out discourteous, inaccurate or libellous statements. The letters are sub-edited before publication. Authors are required to declare any conflicts of interest. The Committee's decision on publication is final.

Letter to the editor

Editor, – I read with interest Australian Prescriber Vol 25 No 1, 2002. In particular the letters section caught my attention. The comment on the search for information on immunisation stated that information retrieval was limited by the indexing of the databases and by databases being overburdened by too much content.

In fact the problem may simply rest with the manner in which the web page was set up. Keywords and key phrases are important factors in being found by a search engine. A search engine (e.g. Google, Lycos, Excite) is like a librarian that selects certain web pages in response to a search request according to the search engine's own criteria. Search engines rank web pages according to keywords or phrases:

  • in the title
  • in headings
  • in the body text
  • in the meta tags provided for every web page as the source code or document code. You can access this code by going into 'View' on the menu bar of the browser (e.g. Netscape, Windows Explorer). This code gives instructions to browsers and search engines. It is written in HTML (Hypertext Markup Language).
  • in the hyperlinks (links the reader can click on to go to other pages)
  • in the URL and other tags.

How you place your keywords is integral to how easily your web site is found.

It is possible that the Webmaster of the Department of Health and Ageing did not consider 'vaccination' and 'guidelines' to be significant keywords and did not place them in a prominent position in the necessary sections. Perhaps the computing expert simply needs to have further consultation with the content expert about essential keywords or phrases in order to remove any barriers to accessing the very important database about immunisation.

Leora Ross