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Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes (1959)

Chapter: Current Medical Literature: A Quantitative Survey of Articles and Journals

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Suggested Citation:"Current Medical Literature: A Quantitative Survey of Articles and Journals." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×

Current Medical Literature: A Quantitative Survey of Articles and Journals

ESTELLE BRODMAN and SEYMOUR I.TAINE

The traditional view of scientific, especially medical, literature is that its volume is so large that it has become impossible to bring it under control by traditional methods. So far as can be ascertained from a reading of the reports on this problem, most previous estimates of the size of the literature have been made either entirely on an a priori basis or by extrapolation from incomplete data. In the latter category, especially, belong estimates based on partial counts of the number of journals published.

Years of experience spent in examining thousands of medical serials convinced us that the use of the journal title as the quantitative unit of the periodical literature was both erroneous and misleading. Since it is the individual article that contains the specific medical information sought, it seemed logical to use this unit as the basis for determining the true size and therefore the indexing load. The results of some trial projects confirmed this subjective impression and also indicated the feasibility of a larger investigation based on the count of periodical articles within the separate journal issues. The present study was undertaken to procure these data; its further aim was to analyze the information obtained, to compare the results with some other studies made on the traditional journal title basis, and, finally, to draw some conclusion regarding the significance of the findings.

The National Library of Medicine makes a planned, regular, and continuing attempt to learn of the existence of and to obtain all the medical serials published throughout the world. As a result of this policy the Library at the end of 1957 held more than 13,000 different substantive and non-substantive serial titles of reasonable currency. For purposes of this study, it was assumed that

ESTELLE BRODMAN and SEYMOUR I.TAINE National Library of Medicine, Washington, D.C.

Suggested Citation:"Current Medical Literature: A Quantitative Survey of Articles and Journals." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×

the number of medical serials, particularly those of a substantive nature, not received at the National Library of Medicine was so small and was probably scattered so widely in terms of subject, language, and country of origin, it would not distort the results obtained. The field of medicine is broadly defined by the Library; it includes the ancillary fields of dentistry, nursing, hospital administration, pharmacy, homeopathy, and osteopathy.

Methods

A modest, part time investigation was set up in the National Library of Medicine. Because of limitations of time, staff, and equipment, only certain data were tabulated and these were analyzed for the most part by hand methods. All current serials coming to the National Library of Medicine for a three-month period (March-May, 1957) were initially divided into two categories: those indexed by the Current List of Medical Literature and those not so indexed. Since the information about the journals in the Current List was already available for previous operational purposes, nothing further was done with this group of titles. Material not indexed by the Current List was next sorted into two further groups: those containing substantive articles (“indexable journals”) and those containing merely news items, abstracts, statistics, and other non-substantive miscellany (“non-indexable journals”).

The number of individual journal issues in each group was counted, after which the non-indexable journals were discarded from this study; the remaining journals, the indexable journals, were analyzed for the following information:

  1. Number of articles contained in the journal.

  2. Periodicity of the journal and its articles.

  3. Language or languages of the journal and its articles.

  4. Country of origin of the journal and its articles.

  5. Subject or subjects covered by the journal and its articles. (Subject categories used were adapted from the first edition of World Medical Periodicals.)

The information thus obtained was added to equivalent information for the journals and articles indexed in the Current List of Medical Literature to obtain the total picture. The findings were then compared with those of two earlier, somewhat similar studies, that of the Welch Medical Library Indexing Project (1) and that of the second edition of World Medical Periodicals (2) wherever possible.

Suggested Citation:"Current Medical Literature: A Quantitative Survey of Articles and Journals." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×

Findings

A total of 31,423 articles appearing in 2089 journal titles was counted in the three-month period for an annual total of 125,692 articles not indexed in the Current List of Medical Literature. By utilizing the periodicity data and by making an adjustment for the journals issued annually, semiannually, or at irregular intervals which would normally not be received in any single quarter, the annual number of journal titles and issues was estimated to be 2506 and 19,007 respectively. However, because all the current journals, irrespective of their subject fields, which were received in the National Library of Medicine during the three-month period were counted, many items are included which would not be indexed in a general medical index, which, by its subject scope, would be more restrictive than the collecting policy of the Library. For example, while material on bibliography, physics, and chemistry is admitted to the Library collection, it would be excluded from a medical index. If we remove from the count the out-of-scope items, the grand totals of indexable medical materials are reduced by 135 journals, 1165 issues, and 14,436 articles to the figures which appear in Table 1. Throughout the paper, we have used the maximum counts to be certain that we have not erred on the side of under-estimation. Furthermore, no deductions have been made for the considerable quantity of articles in journals in such non-clinical fields as general science, general biology, and psychology which would also not be indexed in a general medical index.

TABLE 1 National Library of Medicine Survey, 1957: Summary table

Substantive serial titles (per year)

Number indexed in Current List of Medical Literature

1,508

 

Number of additional titles found

2,371

 

Total substantive serial titles

 

3,879

Substantive serial issues (per year)

Number indexed in Current List of Medical Literature

11,434

 

Number of additional issues found

17,843

 

Total substantive serial issues

 

29,277

Substantive serial articles (per year)

Number indexed in Current List of Medical Literature

107,478

 

Number of additional articles found

111,256

 

Total substantive serial articles

 

218,734

From these figures it appears that the total indexable medical periodical lit-

Suggested Citation:"Current Medical Literature: A Quantitative Survey of Articles and Journals." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×

erature is just about double the size of the present Current List of Medical Literature, the largest medical index in the world.

PERIODICITY

The frequency with which the material is published is given in Table 2.

TABLE 2 Periodicity of medical literature

 

Periodical Titles

Periodical Issues

Periodical Articles

Periodical Articles per Title

Frequency

Number

%

Number

%

Weekly

64

1.6

3,588

18,354

8.3

270

Semimonthly

75

1.9

2,040

12,336

5.9

145

Monthly

1220

30.4

15,240

99,107

44.8

79

Bimonthly

639

15.9

3,994

33,122

14.9

51

Quarterly

953

23.7

3,892

29,975

13.5

31

Semiannually

126

3.1

252

2,149

1.0

17

Annually

369

9.2

369

6,303

2.8

17

Irregularly

568

14.1

1,136

20,280

9.1

36

Total

4014

99.9

30,441

221,626

100.3

It can be seen that in regard to productivity the rank order follows closely the frequency of appearance of the journal. The most frequently appearing type of journal (the weekly) contains more articles per year than the semimonthly, which in turn, contains more articles per year than the monthly, and so on down to the annual publication. This information, often guessed at and now confirmed, is of some interest. For example, the data indicate that whereas the total number of annual, semiannual, and irregularly appearing journals comprise more than a quarter of all journals by title, the indexing workload in terms of articles is actually under 13%. Stated another way, a decidedly misleading impression could be created by the isolated fact that a particular 1063 journals are indexed, since these yield a total of only 28,732 articles.

It is also interesting to note that while overall there is an average of 58.1 articles published per year in each medical journal, the titles now indexed in the Current List yield 71.3 articles per year per title. Also, the average number of articles per journal issue for Current List titles is 9.4 while the same figure for non-Current List journals is only 7.6 articles per issue. This would seem to indicate that Current List journals are more productive than non-Current List titles in numbers of articles they contain; if so, it would mean that indexing of the additional journals would not swell the total in direct proportions to the number added.

GEOGRAPHIC ORIGINS

During the three-month period, journals from 85 countries were received. The results are tabulated in Table 3. However, some of the smaller nations

Suggested Citation:"Current Medical Literature: A Quantitative Survey of Articles and Journals." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×

known to publish at least one medical periodical did not contribute any specimens during the collection period. Quantitatively, both by titles and articles, these omissions should not be significant.

TABLE 3 Geographic distribution of medical literature

 

Periodical Titles

Periodical Articles

In Current List

All periodical titles

In Current List

All periodical articles

Country

Number

%

Number

%

Algeria

3

6

291

327

Argentina

25

55

1.52

1,892

3,784

1.7

Australia

6

15

576

896

Austria

20

45

1.24

1,130

2,222

1.0

Albania

0

1

0

56

Belgium

36

52

1.44

1,791

2,691

1.2

Brazil

33

90

2.49

1,127

3,335

1.5

British West Indies

2

2

39

39

Bulgaria

5

5

387

387

Burma

1

1

29

29

Canada

20

55

1.38

1,494

2,662

1.2

Ceylon

1

2

15

37

China

6

14

422

998

Chile

6

14

270

642

Colombia

2

15

40

360

Costa Rica

1

2

15

47

Cuba

11

32

298

918

Canary Islands

0

1

0

24

Cyprus

1

1

10

10

Czechoslovakia

24

30

1,613

1,785

Denmark

19

41

1.14

1,076

1,824

Dominican Republic

1

2

12

92

Ecuador

1

7

16

176

Egypt

2

7

134

262

England

97

244

6.76

8,058

16,398

7.4

Finland

7

16

313

593

France

116

297

8.23

10,997

22,485

10.2

French Guiana

1

1

40

40

Formosa

0

1

0

48

Germany

136

315

8.72

12,449

25,741

11.7

Greece

2

11

65

449

Guatemala

1

3

40

96

Hawaii

1

1

36

36

Haiti

0

2

0

32

Honduras

1

1

20

20

Hungary

18

23

1,288

1,388

India

8

42

1.16

493

2,761

1.3

Indonesia

1

2

60

68

Italy

150

345

9.55

8,668

17,192

7.8

Iran

1

3

45

181

Israel

3

9

200

344

Ireland (Eire)

2

4

144

160

Iraq

1

2

20

36

Japan

22

187

5.18

1,081

19,665

8.9

Jordan

0

1

0

8

Kenya

1

1

66

66

Suggested Citation:"Current Medical Literature: A Quantitative Survey of Articles and Journals." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×

 

Periodical Titles

Periodical Articles

In Current List

All periodical titles

In Current List

All periodical articles

Country

Number

%

Number

%

Lebanon

2

5

118

162

Luxembourg

1

1

5

5

Malaya

2

3

44

92

Martinique

1

1

6

6

Mexico

13

42

1.16

488

1,296

Morocco

1

2

180

180

Madagascar

0

1

0

72

Netherlands

28

63

1.75

1,733

3,017

1.4

New Zealand

2

9

74

230

Nicaragua

0

1

0

56

Northern Ireland

1

1

20

20

Norway

2

17

212

632

New Guinea

0

1

0

12

Pakistan

1

6

20

200

Panama

1

3

30

142

Paraguay

0

1

0

8

Peru

2

16

20

288

Philippines

3

13

130

450

Poland

34

44

1.22

1,756

2,396

1.1

Portugal

10

31

499

1,007

Puerto Rico

1

4

60

104

Rhodesia and Nyasaland Federation

1

1

48

48

Rumania

9

22

309

1,737

Saarland

1

1

12

12

Salvador

1

1

37

37

Scotland

4

6

134

150

South Africa

3

19

248

876

Spain

33

117

3.24

1,491

5,231

2.4

Sweden

17

42

1.16

1,755

2,567

1.2

Switzerland

59

112

3.10

2,863

5,203

2.4

Thailand

0

3

0

120

Trieste

1

1

31

31

Tunisia

1

1

90

90

Turkey

3

12

132

488

U.S.A.

391

847

23.46

31,751

53,975

24.5

U.S.S.R.

57

84

2.33

5,338

7,126

3.2

Uruguay

6

14

109

309

Venezuela

4

16

116

412

Yugoslavia

17

28

859

1,439

Total

1508

3597

107,478

221,626

Under 1%.

By far the largest producer of medical periodical literature, on any basis, is the United States, which furnishes almost one-quarter of all the world’s journals and/or articles. Although in number of journals Italy ranks second to the U.S. with 9.6%, with Germany (8.7%), France (8.2%), and England (6.8%) trailing in that order, on the basis of articles, Germany ranks second with

Suggested Citation:"Current Medical Literature: A Quantitative Survey of Articles and Journals." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×

11.7%, followed in order by France (10.2%), Japan (8.9%), and Italy (7.8%). This qualitative and quantitative variation of the “Big 5” is made especially interesting by the leap into fourth place by Japan which now produces almost 20,000 articles yearly.

Oddly, a national pattern appears to emerge in regard to the average number of articles published in each journal title. As Table 4 indicates, the journals of certain countries are consistently characterized by a high number of articles, others are of a low productivity, and a third group can be described as medium producers:

TABLE 4 Average number of articles per title by country

High

Medium

Low

Japan

105.2

India

65.7

Italy

49.8

U.S.S.R.

84.8

U.S.A.

62.6

Switzerland

46.5

Germany

81.7

Sweden

61.1

Spain

44.7

LANGUAGES

As shown in Table 5, twenty languages are utilized to convey practically all of the world’s medical information in periodicals. The heading “Polylingual”

TABLE 5 Language breakdown of medical literature

 

Periodical Titles

Periodical Articles

In Current List

All periodical titles

In Current List

All periodical articles

Language

Number

%

Order

Number

%

Order

Chinese

4

12

.3

20

362

938

.4

15

Czechoslovakian

20

25

.7

14

1,470

1,690

.8

12

Danish

5

26

.7

13

368

924

.4

15

Dutch

10

33

.9

11

996

2,000

.9

11

English

607

1,375

38.2

1

45,651

82,687

37.3

1

Finnish

3

10

.3

21

134

402

.2

17

French

152

384

10.7

3

13,358

28,254

10.9

3

German

155

394

10.9

2

13,681

28,729

13.0

2

Hungarian

14

16

.4

18

1,037

1,137

.5

14

Italian

151

352

9.8

5

8,699

16,699

7.5

5

Japanese

1

128

3.5

7

108

17,232

7.8

4

Norwegian

1

13

.4

19

144

536

.2

17

Polish

31

39

1.1

10

1,702

2,302

1.0

10

Polylingual

110

132

3.7

6

5,900

7,316

3.3

7

Portuguese

42

121

3.4

8

1,584

4,356

1.5

9

Rumanian

7

19

.5

17

224

1,804

.8

12

Russian

56

75

2.1

9

5,290

6,930

3.1

8

Serbo-Croatian

14

24

.7

15

697

1,173

.5

14

Spanish

109

358

9.9

4

5,190

13,806

6.2

6

Swedish

2

22

.6

16

46

770

.3

16

Turkish

3

10

.3

22

132

456

.2

17

Other

11

28

.8

12

705

1,485

.7

13

Total

1508

3597

99.9

 

107,478

221,626

99.5

 

Suggested Citation:"Current Medical Literature: A Quantitative Survey of Articles and Journals." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×

refers to the journals which include articles written in more than a single language; “Other” includes all material in a single language other than the twenty already listed for which fewer than 10 journal titles were located.

Table 5 shows that English is by far the most common language (over 37% of the articles). Here again, as in the geographic breakdown, a similarly intriguing variation between journal and article counts emerges. In regard to journals, German ranks second with 10.9%, followed very closely by French (10.7%); Spanish and Italian run a close fourth and fifth, with 9.9% and 9.8% respectively. On the article basis, German is again second to English with 13%, just slightly ahead of French at 12.9%. Fourth place is, however, usurped by Japanese with 7.8%, and Italian is in fifth with 7.5%. Russian trails far behind in eighth place with a little over 3% of the total. Some quick arithmetic reveals the interesting fact that about 85% of the medical periodical literature is written in but six languages.

SUBJECTS

Any attempt to subdivide the field of medicine into its component parts is, at best, a frustrating procedure and rarely, if ever, does it produce a result that is completely satisfying. Much of the difficulty, apart from the ever-broadening scope of medicine, may be attributed to the inherent characteristics of the various related subject fields and specialties which resist a clean, sharp, and exclusive compartmentalization. For example, the subject field under which the greatest quantity of medical periodical literature falls is known as “general medicine.” Actually, the specific articles which appear within these general medical journals can be distributed without strain among the different smaller subdivisions provided in the classification. Unfortunately, because of time limitations, the present study had to change its basis and restrict the subject breakdown of the collected material to the journal title and not, as in other cases, to the individual article itself.

Despite these solid reservations, the figures in Table 6 are still of interest and value, although more limited than might be hoped. Its greatest usefulness will probably be found in the data for the more easily circumscribed fields such as dermatology and ophthalmology.

Comparison with other studies

The findings of this investigation can be profitably compared with those of the Welch Medical Library Indexing Project and the second edition of the World Medical Periodicals. Unfortunately the latter work appeared just at the conclusion of the National Library of Medicine survey; it is to be regretted that

Suggested Citation:"Current Medical Literature: A Quantitative Survey of Articles and Journals." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×

TABLE 6 Subject breakdown of medical literature

 

Periodical Titles

Periodical Articles

In Current List

All periodical titles

In Current List

All periodical articles

Subject

Number

%

Number

%

Alcoholism

2

12

55

227

Allergy

6

7

273

493

Anatomy (incl. embryology)

33

48

1.2

1,231

2,303

1.0

Anesthesiology

12

17

647

1,363

Anthropology

2

14

66

470

Antibiotics

8

11

635

687

Aviation Medicine

8

8

223

223

Athletics

0

10

0

524

Bibliography

1

20

52

596

Biochemistry

31

37

1.1

3,099

3,491

1.5

Biology, general

21

54

1.4

1,194

2,778

1.1

Beauty culture

0

2

0

56

Cancer

26

34

1.0

1,603

1,815

Cardiovascular system

29

43

1.1

1,426

2,614

1.1

Chemistry

1

37

1.0

12

9,260

4.1

Chiropody

1

9

60

268

Chiropractic

0

5

0

248

Chronic disease

1

1

108

108

Criminology

0

9

0

260

Civil Defense

0

1

0

64

Dentistry

4

180

4.5

456

8,296

3.4

Dermatology

29

50

1.3

2,117

3,625

1.5

Diabetes

1

7

51

187

Education

0

2

0

92

Endocrinology

17

21

1,192

1,396

Engineering

0

1

0

72

Enzymology

5

5

114

114

Experimental medicine

88

101

2.5

5,755

6,383

2.6

Food technology

1

10

49

669

Gastroenterology

18

29

1,167

2,779

1.1

General medicine

332

817

20.4

33,143

60,147

24.5

Genito-urinary system

19

27

1,103

1,743

Geriatrics

5

11

289

517

Gynecology and obstetrics

48

76

1.9

3,393

5,369

2.2

Hematology

17

24

786

1,322

Heredity and genetics

13

22

321

649

History of medicine

8

24

126

566

Homeopathy

2

22

 

208

972

Hospitals

8

47

1.2

957

2,949

1.2

Hydrology and climatology

1

14

24

764

Hygiene and public health

42

162

4.1

2,207

5,799

2.4

Hypnosis

0

2

0

44

Illustration, etc.

4

5

115

143

Immunology

11

11

421

421

Industrial hygiene

20

45

1.1

988

2,224

1.0

Infectious diseases

24

31

1,426

1,826

Suggested Citation:"Current Medical Literature: A Quantitative Survey of Articles and Journals." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×

 

Periodical Titles

Periodical Articles

In Current List

All periodical titles

In Current List

All periodical articles

Subject

Number

%

Number

%

Internal medicine

14

21

1,091

1,631

Jurisprudence, medical

8

21

253

753

Leprosy

4

8

83

195

Malaria

3

5

80

140

Maternity and child welfare

0

14

0

532

Medical profession

3

13

177

953

Medical technology

10

19

435

755

Medicine and religion

0

8

 

0

360

Microbiology

42

54

1.4

2,728

3,360

1.4

Microscopy

4

7

133

313

Military and naval medicine

37

44

1.1

1,491

1,679

Mycology

1

2

2

150

Naturopathy

0

6

0

468

Neurology

50

71

1.8

2,625

3,433

1.4

Neurosurgery

11

13

454

642

Nursing

5

45

1.1

531

2,483

1.0

Nutrition

16

32

1,018

1,630

Occupational therapy

7

25

348

920

Ophthalmology

40

76

1.9

2,306

4,302

1.8

Orthopedics

18

44

1.1

1,022

2,194

Osteopathy

1

18

144

784

Otorhinolaryngology

35

60

1.5

2,146

3,250

1.3

Parasitology

16

23

748

1,288

Pathology

36

46

1.2

2,537

3,257

1.3

Pediatrics

59

92

2.3

3,778

5,694

2.3

Pharmacology

34

39

1.0

2,462

2,782

1.1

Pharmacy

15

113

2.8

767

4,487

1.8

Philosophy

0

2

0

76

Physics

12

26

1,328

2,956

1.2

Physiology

44

48

1.2

3,337

3,561

1.5

Physiotherapy

13

33

556

1,508

Plastic surgery

3

6

190

382

Population

0

3

0

180

Psychiatry

63

103

2.6

3,086

3,974

1.6

Psychoanalysis

8

15

292

468

Psychology

27

73

1.8

1,325

3,581

1.5

Plants

0

7

0

476

Radiodiagnosis, etc.

29

48

1.2

2,452

3,300

1.3

Red Cross

0

6

0

208

Rheumatism

13

20

535

659

Science, general

10

76

1.9

1,865

8,713

3.6

Serology

4

4

169

169

Sex

0

3

0

112

Social medicine

6

16

280

688

Sociology

0

13

0

920

Speech disorders

2

5

74

162

Statistics

0

2

0

264

Surgery

106

193

4.8

8,227

12,903

5.3

Suggested Citation:"Current Medical Literature: A Quantitative Survey of Articles and Journals." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×

 

Periodical Titles

Periodical Articles

In Current List

All periodical titles

In Current List

All periodical articles

Subject

Number

%

Number

%

Therapeutics

10

49

1.2

624

2,768

1.1

Thorax

15

30

795

1,659

Tropical medicine

33

39

1.0

1,474

1,590

Tuberculosis

32

62

1.6

1,617

2,549

1.0

Veterinary medicine

5

47

1.2

532

3,732

1.5

Vitaminology

5

7

156

400

Zoology

1

14

90

1,146

Total

1809

3994

123,455

244,455

Less than 1%.

time and staff were not available to do a thorough comparison of the two lists, especially in the language, country, and periodicity areas. It is to be hoped that further work can be done on this in the future. The Welch Library Indexing Project, sponsored by the predecessors of the present National Library of Medicine, carried on its work from 1948 to 1953. Among its other activities, the Project also undertook to do a comprehensive survey of the world’s medical serials.

Table 7 gives comparative figures of the total number of journals studied by the three groups.

TABLE 7 Comparative counts of medical periodicals

Welch Medical Library Indexing Project Survey

4454

World Medical Periodicals

4360a

National Library of Medicine Survey

3879

a Current titles only.

The differences between the National Library of Medicine figure and those of the other two are not as significant as would appear at first glance. The Welch Medical Library figures are higher on account of differences in definition of current substantive periodicals. Actually, an adjustment on the basis of like criteria would probably effect an extremely close alignment; this is not surprising in view of the wide use made by the Indexing Project of the serial holdings of the National Library of Medicine.

The apparent discrepancy between the National Library of Medicine and World Medical Periodicals is almost entirely due to the coverage from two specific geographic areas in the National Library of Medicine. The National Library of Medicine is now overcoming a lag in the acquisition of materials from Latin-America and Japan occasioned by an earlier policy decision to collect selectively from these regions. Some 90% of the differential between the two

Suggested Citation:"Current Medical Literature: A Quantitative Survey of Articles and Journals." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×

totals appears to consist of Latin-American journals whose average output of articles is generally acknowledged to be quite low.

Tables 8 to 10 are comparisons of the results in terms of journal titles of the National Library of Medicine and of the Welch Medical Library Indexing Project. In spite of the time interval between the two investigations, there is a high degree of correlation; 0.905 for periodicity and 0.947 for languages, for example.

TABLE 8 Comparison of periodicity of medical journals

 

National Library of Medicine Survey

Welch Medical Library Indexing Project Survey

Frequency

Number

%

Number

%

Weekly

64

1.6

93

2.0

Semimonthly

75

1.9

95

2.0

Monthly

1220

30.4

1518

34.0

Bimonthly

639

15.9

603

14.0

Quarterly

953

23.7

868

19.0

Semiannually

126

3.1

73

1.6

Annually

369

9.2

385

9.0

Irregularly

568

14.1

822

18.4

Total

4014

99.9

4454

100.0

TABLE 9 Comparison of geographic origin of medical journals

 

National Library of Medicine Survey

Welch Medical Library Indexing Project Survey

Geographic Division

Number

%

Number

%

Europe

2015

55.9

2012

47.2

North America

944

26.2

1382

31.0

Asia

295

8.2

336

7.5

Latin America

283

7.9

523

11.7

Africa

38

1.1

45

1.0

Australasia

25

.7

39

.9

Other

0

0

27

.6

Total

3597

100.0

4454

99.9

TABLE 10 Comparison of languages of medical journals

 

National Library of Medicine Survey

Welch Medical Library Indexing Project Survey

Language

Number

%

Number

%

English

1375

38.2

2061

41.2

German

394

10.9

545

10.9

French

385

10.7

600

12.0

Spanish

358

9.9

608

12.1

Italian

352

9.8

348

6.9

Polylingual

132

3.7

0

0

Japanese

128

3.5

187

3.7

Portuguese

121

3.4

196

3.9

Russian

75

2.1

85

1.7

Polish

39

1.1

34

.7

Dutch

33

.9

49

1.0

Danish

26

.7

39

.8

Czechoslovakian

25

.7

38

.8

Serbo-Croatian

24

.7

22

.4

Swedish

22

.6

46

.9

Rumanian

19

.5

1

0

Suggested Citation:"Current Medical Literature: A Quantitative Survey of Articles and Journals." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×

TABLE 10 Comparison of languages of medical journals

 

National Library of Medicine Survey

Welch Medical Library Indexing Project Survey

Language

Number

%

Number

%

Hungarian

16

.4

26

.5

Norwegian

13

.4

14

.3

Chinese

12

.3

1

0

Finnish

10

.3

17

.3

Turkish

10

.3

21

.4

Less than 10

28

.8

70

1.4

Total

3597

100.0

5008

99.9

Summary

An investigation was undertaken to determine the approximate size and composition of present-day medical periodical literature by employing as the basic counting unit not the journal title, so frequently used in such investigations, but the journal article. Our object was to do away with the difficulty encountered in most previous studies, where certain assumptions had to be made about the relationship between journal titles and journal articles.

Data were collected on the number of journal titles and journal articles published in 1957, their periodicity and country of origin, the languages in which they were published, and their subject breakdown. Analysis of these data showed a direct linear relationship between the number of issues of a journal published (its periodicity) and the number of articles in it. On the other hand, there appears to be a true variation in the average number of articles published per journal title on the basis of the geographical origin of the journal, and linguistically, substantial deviations are encountered between journal title counts and article counts.

It was also possible to analyze the data of the medical periodical literature for the probable magnitude of what would logically be indexed in a general medical index. This turns out to be about 220,000 articles per year, or approximately twice the number already listed in the Current List of Medical Literature, the largest general medical index we now possess.

We believe the statistics presented here can be used meaningfully in additional ways, only a few of which are mentioned in this paper. It is to be hoped that further work can be undertaken in the future.

REFERENCES

1. WILLIAMINA A.HIMWICH and others. Survey of world medical serials and coverage by indexing and abstracting service, Welch Medical Library indexing project sponsored by the Armed Forces Medical Library. Baltimore, 1954.

2. LESLIE T.MORTON, comp. World medical periodicals, 2nd edition, World Medical Assoc., Geneva, 1957.

Suggested Citation:"Current Medical Literature: A Quantitative Survey of Articles and Journals." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×

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Suggested Citation:"Current Medical Literature: A Quantitative Survey of Articles and Journals." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Current Medical Literature: A Quantitative Survey of Articles and Journals." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×
Page 436
Suggested Citation:"Current Medical Literature: A Quantitative Survey of Articles and Journals." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×
Page 437
Suggested Citation:"Current Medical Literature: A Quantitative Survey of Articles and Journals." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×
Page 438
Suggested Citation:"Current Medical Literature: A Quantitative Survey of Articles and Journals." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×
Page 439
Suggested Citation:"Current Medical Literature: A Quantitative Survey of Articles and Journals." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×
Page 440
Suggested Citation:"Current Medical Literature: A Quantitative Survey of Articles and Journals." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×
Page 441
Suggested Citation:"Current Medical Literature: A Quantitative Survey of Articles and Journals." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×
Page 442
Suggested Citation:"Current Medical Literature: A Quantitative Survey of Articles and Journals." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×
Page 443
Suggested Citation:"Current Medical Literature: A Quantitative Survey of Articles and Journals." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×
Page 444
Suggested Citation:"Current Medical Literature: A Quantitative Survey of Articles and Journals." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×
Page 445
Suggested Citation:"Current Medical Literature: A Quantitative Survey of Articles and Journals." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×
Page 446
Suggested Citation:"Current Medical Literature: A Quantitative Survey of Articles and Journals." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×
Page 447
Suggested Citation:"Current Medical Literature: A Quantitative Survey of Articles and Journals." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×
Page 448
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The launch of Sputnik caused a flurry of governmental activity in science information. The 1958 International Conference on Scientific Information (ICSI) was held in Washington from Nov.16-21 1958 and sponsored by NSF, NAS, and American Documentation Institute, the predecessor to the American Society for Information Science. In 1959, 20,000 copies of the two volume proceedings were published by NAS and included 75 papers (1600 pages) by dozens of pioneers from seven areas such as:

  • Literature and reference needs of scientists
  • Function and effectiveness of A & I services
  • Effectiveness of Monographs, Compendia, and Specialized Centers
  • Organization of information for storage and search: comparative characteristics of existing systems
  • Organization of information for storage and retrospective search: intellectual problems and equipment considerations
  • Organization of information for storage and retrospective search: possibility for a general theory
  • Responsibilities of Government, Societies, Universities, and industry for improved information services and research.

It is now an out of print classic in the field of science information studies.

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