Rating medical journals by importance to clinicians

September 05, 2004

As doctors' time is precious it is imperative that they don't waste hours reading articles of little clinical importance. A study published today in BMC Medicine, rates 170 medical titles according to the number of clinically useful articles that they publish.

Ann McKibbon, Nancy Wilczynski and Brian Haynes from McMaster University found that "the majority of important articles for each discipline were sequestered in a small subset of journals." General broad interest titles such as Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, The Lancet and the BMJ featured in the list of the top five most useful titles.

"All lists of important journals included both North American and European titles," said McKibbon. She stresses that, "reading choices for clinicians cannot be based on national or discipline boundaries."

The researchers assessed over 60,000 articles from 170 journals for their clinical relevance and importance, to decide which articles should be highlighted in four healthcare review publications on internal medicine, general/family practice, nursing and mental health.

To be included the articles had to be about the healthcare of humans, have at least one clinically important outcome and contain appropriate statistical analyses. In addition to other selection criteria, the article had to be approved by an editorial group of practicing clinicians who confirmed that the findings were not already known or applied, and that the condition discussed was not a rare one.

3,059 original research articles and 1,073 review articles met the inclusion criteria in eight categories.

For the internal medicine review title, ACP Journal Club, four journals provided 56.5% of the content. 53.2% of the content in the mental health title, Evidence-Based Mental Health, was taken from a selection of only nine different journals.

The researchers hope that their findings will help clinicians to focus their full text reading. As journals and books are the main source of information for clinicians, it is important that they choose carefully which journals to subscribe to and read. "This decision should not be based on intuition alone," says McKibbon.
This press release is based on the following article:
What do evidence-based secondary journals tell us about the publication of clinically important articles in primary healthcare journals?
K A McKibbon, N L Wilczynski, R B Haynes
BMC Medicine 2004, 2:33

Upon publication this article will be freely available according to BMC Medicine's Open Access policy via: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/2/33

Please quote the journal in any stories that you write, and link to the article if you are writing for the web.

For further information, please contact the authors: Ann McKibbon: email - mckib@mcmaster.ca or phone - 1-905-528-4517,
Nancy Wilczynski: email at wilczyn@mcmaster.ca or phone - 1-905-525-9140 ext 22780
Dr. Brian Haynes: email bhaynes@mcmaster.ca or phone - 1-905-525-9140 ext 24931

Alternatively, or for more information about the journal or Open Access publishing, contact Gemma Bradley by phone on 44-20-7631-9931 or by email at press@biomedcentral.com

BMC Medicine (http://www.biomedcentral.com/bmcmed/) publishes original research articles, technical advances and study protocols in any area of medical science or clinical practice. To be appropriate for BMC Medicine, articles need to be of special importance and broad interest.

BMC Medicine is published by BioMed Central (http://www.biomedcentral.com), an independent online publishing house committed to providing Open Access to peer-reviewed biological and medical research. This commitment is based on the view that immediate free access to research and the ability to freely archive and reuse published information is essential to the rapid and efficient communication of science. BioMed Central currently publishes over 100 journals across biology and medicine. In addition to open-access original research, BioMed Central also publishes reviews, commentaries and other non-original-research content. Depending on the policies of the individual journal, this content may be open access or provided only to subscribers.

BioMed Central

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