Access to Health Research: Pubmed/Medline

‘MEDLINE is the U.S. National Library of Medicine® (NLM) premier bibliographic database that contains more than 22 million references to journal articles in life sciences with a concentration on biomedicine. A distinctive feature of MEDLINE is that the records are indexed with NLM Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)… [Medline includes] citations from more than 5,600 worldwide journals in about 40 languages… Since 2005, between 2,000-4,000 completed references are added each day… For citations published in 2010 or later, over 40% are for cited articles published in the U.S., about 93% are published in English’

Much research from LMICs has limited visibility because it is published in journals that are not indexed by Pubmed/Medline.

The Medline selection criteria state (inter alia):

– ‘Foreign language journals: Criteria for selection are the same as for those written in English. In order to extend the accessibility of the journal’s content to a wider potential readership, the majority of published articles in the review issues must contain an English-language abstract before the title will be considered for possible indexing.’

– ‘Geographic coverage: The highest quality and most useful journals are selected without regard for place of publication. In order to provide broad international coverage, special attention is given to research, public health, epidemiology, standards of health care, and indigenous diseases. Journals will generally not be selected for indexing if the contents are subjects already well represented in MEDLINE or that are being published for a local audience.’

In practice, the majority of journals published in low- and middle-income countries are not indexed by Medline.

This raises many questions:

Q1.4 How can journals published in LMICs be better supported to achieve the criteria demanded by Medline?

Q1.5 Should the Medline criteria be changed to accommodate more journals from LMICs?

Q1.6 How can non-Medline journals be made visible through alternative indexes? For example, what is the experience of indexing services such as WHO’s African Index Medicus, the Western Pacific Region Index Medicus, Index Medicus of the South East Asia Region and Global Index Medicus, and how can these indexing services be strengthened?

I look forward to learn more from HIFA members – Medline staff, publishers, journal editors, researchers and users of health research. What are your experiences, observations and suggestions for the future?

Best wishes,


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