Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Why are some journals in Medline and some not?

Answer: Medline (Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System Online) is the bibliographic database from the NLM, the National Library of Medicine. Journals are selected for inclusion based on recommendations from the Literature Selection Technical Review Committee (LSTRC), a group created by the National Institutes of Health.

Decisions about indexing or rejecting specific journals are made collaboratively by the NLM director, the NLM board of regents, and the LSTRC. The review committee meets three times a year and considers approximately 140 titles at each meeting. Areas of emphasis in evaluating journals for possible inclusion in Medline include scope and coverage, quality of content, editorial work, production quality, audience, and types of content. The NLM describes “health professionals” as its intended area of focus for Medline. This category includes physicians, nurses, dentists, veterinarians, and the many types of allied health professionals in the research and health care delivery systems.

For more information about the process of journal selection for Medline, consult the Medline Journal Selection Fact Sheet. (The Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (JAAPA) August 2009, "Ask a Librarian!" column, co-written by Jim Anderson and Librarian Susan Klawansky)

How do you locate articles that are not indexed in MEDLINE?

Increase your coverage by using multiple databases and research sources. In addition to MEDLINE (or PubMed) try a combination of databases such as EMBASE.com, Web of Science, CINAHL, PSYCInfo, etc. You might wish to try our new cross platform search engine, Articles & Databases to discover databases that may be of interest in your area of interest. Tulane has hundreds of databases to choose from.

For example, when searching a topic in the injury prevention and safety literature, no single database included all of the relevant articles on any topic, and the database with the broadest coverage differed by topic. A 2008 study found that a literature search performed in only one database will, on average, lead to a loss of more than half of the available literature on a topic. (Lawrence, 2008)

Lawrence, D.W. What is lost when searching only one literature database for articles relevant to injury prevention and safety promotion? Inj Prev. 2008 Dec;14(6):401-4 (PMID: 19074247)

Suarez-Almazor, M.E. et.al. Identifying clinical trials in the medical literature with electronic databases: MEDLINE alone is not enough. Control Clin Trials. 2000 Oct;21(5):476-87. (PMID: 11018564)

Ask the Matas Librarians for more information about making database and research choices.