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Over recent years, we’ve received a fair number of technical support calls from NER members. At first glance, it would seem logical to categorize support calls by the NLM resource.  A more instructive approach, however, would probably be to take a closer view of the broader technical issues. When PubMed and DOCLINE users encounter errors, many immediately assume that the problem is centralized in Bethesda (i.e., NLM) when in fact, the problem often lies with local network or local desktop issues.

To reduce the incidence of “local” issues in the future, users may want to consider the following:

1. When accessing NLM applications (such as PubMed, DOCLINE, etc.), make sure your workstation is set up to accept “cookies”.

2. If there’s an unexpected occurrence in the display of screens while in PubMed or DOCLINE, make sure that workstation cache has been cleared.

[ NOTE: When clearing workstation cache, do not delete those “cookies” needed by DOCLINE.]

3. After clearing cache, if the technical problem recurs, write down the steps you took and report your problem either to the NER or to NLM Customer Service.

More information related to enabling cookies or clearing cache may be found below:

Enabling cookies (using Internet Explorer):

Enabling cookies (using Firefox):

Clearing cache:

Several useful definitions on the subject:


Cache is a temporary storage area on a user’s computer where frequently accessed data is rapid ready for immediate use so that re-computing original data is not required.  Cache should be refreshed routinely.

Clearing cache on your web browser may improve web page downloading time and overall performance while accessing databases on the web.


A “cookie” is information sent by a website server to the user’s workstation while they are connected to that site. Cookies store information about user interactions that may be needed later for the system to perform a function.

Most browsers allow users to decide whether or not to accept cookies, as well as the time frame in which to maintain them. Some websites may become unusable when a user decides to reject cookies.

Example: the automatic login functionality found  in ILL management systems depend on the use of cookies and will not work if cookies are disabled.


Connectivity involves the transport of data between two points (from server to workstation, server to server, etc.)

To increase your computer’s connectivity to the web, remember to:

  1. Clear workstation cache from time to time. This will enhance your workstation’s performance with web-based applications (like PubMed and DOCLINE); and
  2. Maintain cookies on your computer, so that your computer is instantly recognized by NLM.

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