MPNS Portal Enhancements and Data Update June 2017
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Dear <<First Name>><<Last Name>>,

We recently released a new data set and redesigned the portal interface to make it easier to use. The latter changes follow feedback from users and extensive review of possible changes.

This newsletter gives an overview of the new data we included and the changes made to the portal. As always, we would welcome feedback. 

Version 7 of the MPNS Resource

Version 7.0 of the Resource is a significant improvement on its predecessor. 

Enhancements include -

Significant increase in content

V7.0 of the Resource now covers:
  • data derived from 143 pharmacopoeias, medicinal plant references and databases (an increase on V6 which covered 117).
  • new sources include a number of significant data sets e.g. from the United States Pharmacopoeia, the United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA), Germany’s Kommission E and several large economic botanical databases housed at Kew.  A complete list of data sources can be seen here.
  • 26,383 different plants from 382 plant families (V6 described 18,481 plants).
  • 380,000 unique names being employed for those plants on 480,000 occasions.

Updated taxonomy

The taxonomy (and accepted names) adopted by MPNS has been refreshed to reflect additions and enhancements to the underlying taxonomic databases.

Improved quality

A particular effort was made during the last six months to review, check and address integrity issues detected in a small percentage of records in the previous version.

Full details of the new data in V7.0 of the resource are found here

Improvements to the Search Portal

The new version of the search portal software addresses the vast majority of user suggestions.  We are keen to hear your views of this version and aim to continue enhancing its functionality and usability.

Simpler interface

After receiving feedback from several regular and first time users of the portal, we explored all the possible options for improving the interface to make it easier to navigate, and to make the complexity of the data links as simple as possible. The main changes are:
  1. The most striking change is a considerable simplification of how research results are displayed.  Rather than providing a comprehensive results table, the new interface offers a simple set of summary statistics which link to further detail. 
  2. Each of these statistics displays the total for a specific category of underlying data (e.g. the number of plants associated with your search term or the number of medicinal references these results are drawn from). Clicking on any one of these links reveals a data table containing records relevant to that data category. 
  3. We believe this provides a clearer overview whilst allowing users to browse information of the greatest relevance to their current question.  The full results table remains available via a ‘View all records” link.

Data richness

  1. It is now possible to see which plants and names are cited within individual medicinal references. Opening the link for a particular reference displays its name and year of publication along with the number of MPNS records derived from that reference that relate to the search. 
  2. The portal now displays the Family to which each plant belongs alongside the “confidence level” of the taxonomy using a one, two or three stars confidence criteria. Kew’s taxonomic resources are under constant review and MPNS’s taxonomy is regularly updated to reflect this progress.

Handling infraspecies

  1. Subspecies or varieties (infraspecies) are now displayed with a direct link to information about the species to which they belong, including any explicit citation of the species as a medicinal plant. 
  2. Species included in MPNS for which infraspecies are recognised in Kew’s taxonomy now display the names of ALL known infraspecies to alert users to their existence and to enable exploration of which of these are also explicitly cited in medicinal publications.

External links

  1. Onward links to PubMed and GenBank have been simplified following a restructuring of the website hosting those resources.  You can search all resources hosted by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information (including PubMed) using either the “Accepted” scientific name for a plant alone OR using all of its scientific names simultaneously. 
  2. Onward links have been added enabling users to search the Biodiversity Heritage Library (a digital biodiversity library) and Species+ for conservation data.  We are open to suggestions for additional data sources to which we could link. 
  3. Each plant page now contains a link to botanical information about that plant in Kew’s Plants of the World Online Portal (where available) as well as a link to the taxonomic source followed by MPNS. 
  4. We have implemented mechanisms facilitating other web resources to link to MPNS. Please do contact us if you wish to implement such links from your own data set.
Please get in touch with any feedback. 

Best wishes,

Bob and the MPNS team
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