Comparative study of journal selection criteria used by medline and embase, and their application to Spanish biomedical journals



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Comparative study of journal selection criteria used by MEDLINE and EMBASE, and their application to Spanish biomedical journals.

Elena Primo Peña1, Manuela Vázquez Valero1, José García Sicilia2



1Centro de Información y Documentación Científica CINDOC-CSIC- Madrid

2CSI Compact Software International S. A. - Madrid


Abstract:

Journal selection criteria are studied for international databases MEDLINE and EMBASE and also LILACS, which covers only Latin-american and Caribbean biomedical production but follows exhaustive selection criteria that are widely reported.


The three databases consider subject suitablility, quality of contents, quality of editorial work, production quality, selection methods of proposed articles, type of contributions, language and geographic coverage and other additional requirements included by some of them and not specified by others.
The selection criteria of international databases are compared applied to the Spanish biomedical journals indexed by MEDLINE, EMBASE or both. Presently, 41 Spanish journals are indexed by MEDLINE, and 111 by EMBASE, being 28 titles common to both.
Regarding the number of journals indexed in both databases, we can assume that the criteria used by MEDLINE are more restrictive than those used by EMBASE. Special consideration is given to the 13 Spanish journals indexed by MEDLINE and not by EMBASE.
Finally, after studying journals indexed by the Spanish databases IBECS (Indice Bibliográfico Español de Ciencias de la Salud) and IME (Indice médico Español), conclusions are shown implying that their selection criteria must be based in those applied by MEDLINE or EMBASE.
Key words:
MEDLINE, EMBASE, Biomedical databases, Biomedical Spanish journals, coverage, IME, IBECS.

Introduction:
Searching for literature about Medline and Embase comparison, we found that the most of the studies dealt with general comparative surveys of both databases (1, 2), the coverage of certain topics (3), the evaluation of retrieval methods (4), the efficiency on the recovery of articles written by authors with specified professional profile (5) or the coverage of journals of selected topics (6). No article has been found on the coverage of periodicals of a specific country.
In this study, Medline and Embase have been compared to assess the reasons of the inequal presence of Spanish journals in both databases. Following this goal, the study and comparison between these databases on journal selection criteria are made (7, 8). The Spanish journals analyzed are those included in references (9, 10).
MEDLINE is the most important database produced by the U. S. National Library of Medicine and includes areas of medicine, dentistry, veterinary, nursing, Public Health and pre-clinic and basic sciences. It contains around 14 million records of references beginning in 1950, obtained from more than 10.000 different journals, of which 4.780 are indexed presently. The critical facts that are considered by the Selection Committee that examines the suitability of the journals for their incorporation to MEDLINE include:


  1. Scope and coverage. - Journals must publish mainly biomedical papers with preference to those that cover aspects scarcely covered in medical Literature.

  2. Quality of contents. - The scientific quality of the contents is the main aspect to select a journal for indexation. The validity, importance, originality and contribution to coverage of any biomedical field in the published papers, are key factors considered in recommending a title for their inclusion in the index.

  3. Quality of editorial work. - The journal should demonstrate features that contribute to the objectivity, credibility and quality of its contents. These features may include information about the methods of article selection, especially on the explicit process of external peer review; statements indicating adherence to ethical guidelines, independence of advertising companies or commercial sponsorship. Sponsorship by national or international professional societies may be considered.

  4. Production quality. - The quality in layout, printing, graphics and illustrations is take into account.

  5. Types of content. - Journals with one or more of the following types of contents will be considered: - Reports of original research.

  • Original clinical observations accompanied by analysis and discussion.

  • Analysis of philosophical, ethical or social aspects of the health professions or biomedical sciences.

  • Critical reviews.

  • Statistical compilations.

  • Descriptions of evaluation of methods or procedures.

  • Case reports with discussions.

  1. Foreign language journals. - Criteria for selection are the same as for those written in English. Additional consideration is given to the availability of adequate English-language abstracts.

  2. Geographic coverage. - The highest quality and most useful journals are selected without regard for place of publication. In order to provide a 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 on subjects already well represented in MEDLINE or those that are being published for a local audience.

This same criteria are applied to both print and electronic journals.


EMBASE database has its origin in Excerpta Medica journal of abstracts, developed by a group of Dutch practitioners, that compiled abstracts of the most relevant medical literature. Since 1972 has been managed by Elsevier editorial company and is available online.
Currently it indexes about 4.400 journals of 67 countries. These have been selected considering the fulfillment of the following criteria:


  1. Scope and subject coverage. Journals should cover any of the following subjects: Drug research, pharmacology, toxicology, human medicine, experimental and clinical research, human biology, health policy and management, pharmacoeconomics, public occupational and environmental health, substance dependence and abuse, psychiatry, forensic medicine, biomedical engineering and instrumentation. However other journals covering peripheral aspects or related matters can also be considered.

  2. Scientific quality and editorial coverage. Scientific and editorial quality are prime factors in the selection of journals. The contents must be under expert evaluation (peer reviewed), although other journals as newsleters on core topics can also be considered. The presence of bibliographic references is a quality factor.

  3. Language requirements. Embase includes journals in any language different from English, but requires abstracts in English. The quality of the English abstracts is considered in the evaluation.

  4. Geographic origin and coverage. Embase aims to provide the widest possible international coverage. It selects high quality journals from any country, and special attention is given to those published out of the main publishing area (e. g. United States, Canada and Western Europe).

Currently EMBASE indexes serial literature which include, not only scientific journals, but also Congress proceedings or monographs, when published as serials (with International Standard Serial Number). Trade or news journals can also be selected when they contain contributions whose quality and presentation are comparable with articles of scientific journals. The inclusion of journals which have only electronic edition is at this moment being considered.


LILACS (Latin American and Caribbean Health Sciences Literature) is a database produced by BIREME (Latin American and Caribbean Center on Health Sciences Information) and which covers latin american health literature. It contains more than 150. 000 records from about 670 journals, begining in 1982 (11). The selection criteria that are used are based mainly on those of MEDLINE (scientific contents, “peer review”, Editorial Committee adapted to the journal field, etc. ) but gives special value to other formal facts as fulfilment of the publication date, minimum of quarterly appearance, between others, which sometimes are not very thoroughly fulfilled by Latin American journals many of them have irregular or extremely late publication patterns.
Results.
The Spanish journals included in MEDLINE are 45 and 111 are indexed by EMBASE, with 31 included in both (Table 1)

Table 1. - Spanish biomedical journals in MEDLINE and EMBASE


Database
Spanish Journals

MEDLINE

45

EMBASE

111

Journals in both MEDLINE and EMBASE

31

Journals in MEDLINE only

14

Journals in EMBASE only

80

The 31 common journals in both databases are:







Acta otorrinolaringológica española

International journal of developmental biology




Actas urológicas españolas

Journal of physiology and biochemistry




AIDS reviews

Medicina clínica




Allergologia et immunopathologia

Medicina oral




Anales de medicina interna

Methods and findings in experimental and




Anales de pediatría

clinical pharmacology




Anales del sistema sanitario de Navarra

Neurocirugía




Archivos de bronconeumología

Neurología




Archivos españoles de urología

Nutrición hospitalaria




Atención primaria

Revista clínica española




Drug news and perspectives

Revista de neurología




Drugs of today

Revista española de cardiología




Enfermedades infecciosas y microbiología clínica

Revista española de enfermedades digestivas




Farmacia hospitalaria

Revista española de quimioterapia




Gastroenterología y hepatología

Revista española de salud pública




Histology and histopathology

Revista iberoamericana de micología

The selection criteria used by MEDLINE and EMBASE for the inclusion of journals in their databases are practically coincident and the subject fields essentially the same, though each uses different subject headings and EMBASE gives a special relevance to drug and pharmacological studies. However, reviewing Spanish journals in both databases, the unequal quantity of journals cannot be apparently explained from the point of view of editorial quality nor the subjects implied.


In order to verify if this situation happens with journals of other countries, the coverage of both database for journals of other European countries has been examined. Some results are shown in Table 2. For comparison reasons we have also included the coverage of journals from the United States.
Table 2. -Journals of European countries and the United States in MEDLINE and EMBASE

Country

Journals in MEDLINE

Journals in EMBASE

Austria

12

36

Belgium

19

19

Bosnia-Herzegovina

1

0

Bulgaria

6

17

Croacia

8

27

Czech Republic

22

40

Denmark

41

32

Finland

5

3

France

89

139

Germany

234

337

Greece

6

11

Holland

211

275

Hungary

12

13

Ireland

37

51

Italy

86

159

Lithuania

1

0

Luxembourg

1

0

Norway

34

46

Poland

49

57

Portugal

2

8

Rumania

13

6

Russia (Federation)

59

1

Slovaquia

5

12

Slovenia

0

3

Spain

41

109

Sweden

11

5

Switzerland

127

115

Ukraina

0

1

United Kingdom

740

923

Yugoslavia

5

5

Total Europe


1. 877

2. 450

United States

1. 592

1. 432

TOTAL Europe and USA

3. 469

3. 882

TOTAL of all countries

4. 780

4. 523

Data in Table 2 shows that although EMBASE gathers a 5 % less journals than MEDLINE, but includes 30 % more European journals than the latter. Biomedical journals of twenty one European countries are represented in equal or greater quantity in EMBASE than in MEDLINE. The most outstanding difference corresponds to journals published by the Russian Federation, which are practically absent in EMBASE, only 1, while MEDLINE indexes 59. Nine countries with more journals in MEDLINE than in EMBASE have been highlighted in red. On the other hand, the number of journals from the United States indexed by MEDLINE is a 10 % superior to those included by EMBASE.


The Spanish databases with an exclusive Health Sciences coverage are:
IME Índice Medico Español (Spanish Medical Index) developed in 1971 by the Instituto de Historia de la Ciencia y Documentación López Piñero (CSIC and Valencia University) (12).

IBECS Indice Bibliografico Español de Ciencias de la Salud (Spanish Bibliographic Index of Health Sciences) created in the year 2000 by the Biblioteca Nacional de Ciencias de la Salud (Institute of Health Carlos III) (13).
Both databases require that the analized journals fulfill their requirements that include:


  • Formal aspects. - (regularity, disposition of the of bibliographical description elements, abstract, etc),

  • Contents aspects. - (related with the Editorial Committee, type of contents included, bibliographical references included in articles) and

  • Diffusion aspects. - (Databases in which they are indexed and diffusion through Internet)

Although there are some small differences in the weight of each requirement, there is some concordance in the selected journals, which is summarised in Table 3:


Tabla 3. Journals indexed in IME and IBECS.

Database


Journals

IME

190

IBECS

135

Both in IME e IBECS

100

Only in IME

90

Only in IBECS

35

The number of coincident journals will probably be greater when IBECS concludes the selection process and the agreements with the publishers, in course in many cases. A criterion that is mandatory in this data base and not indicated by IME specifically, is that all the articles must have a Spanish abstract.


The coverage of the journals included in these databases by MEDLINE and EMBASE has been examined. The results are presented in Table 4.
Table 4. - Spanish journals in Medline and Embase and in Spanish databases

Database

Spanish journals

IME

IBECS

MEDLINE

45

33

33

EMBASE

111

81

65

The number of the Spanish journals included by MEDLINE is the same, 33, for IME and IBECS. They are not the same titles although they are common to a large extent.


Table 5 shows the list of journals indexed by MEDLINE which are not included in both Spanish databases.
Table 5. Spanish journals indexed by Medline and not included in both IME and IBECS

Journal


IME

IBECS

Notes


AIDS Reviews







Without Spanish abstract

Anales de la Real Academia Nacional de Medicina







Does not publish original works but conferences read in the sessions of the Academy

Anales otorrinolaringológicos iberoamericanos




X




Drug news and perspectives







Without Spanish abstract

Drugs of today







Without Spanish abstract

Gastroenterología y Hepatología

X







Histology and Histopathology







Without Spanish abstract

International Journal of Developmental Biology

X







International microbiology




X




Journal of Physiology and Biochemistry

X







Methods and findings in experimental and clinical pharmacology







Without Spanish abstract

Nefrología




X




Revista de derecho y genoma humano




X




Revista Iberoamericana de Micología

X







Spanish journal of psychology










Timely topics in medicine. Cardiovascular diseases







It is not a conventional journal, but an analysis of Web resources

It can be observed that both IME and IBECS do not include 12 journals each one which are indexed by MEDLINE, being 8 journals coincident for both Spanish databases and 4 different for each database. In table 5 the 8 coincident journals which are not included by IME or IBECS are highlighted in red. Seven of these journals are published in English language, 5 do not have Spanish abstract and one is not a conventional journal, but an electronic resource which compiles medical news from other Webs. This implies that only two of this list of journals could enter the Spanish databases:


Anales de la Real Academia Nacional de Medicina, and

Spanish journal of psychology
As indicated in the column for notes in Table 5, the first, mainly contains the conferences read in the scientific Sessions of the Royal National Academy of Medicine, with a few number of original articles in a year.
Regarding the journals indexed by EMBASE, there are significant differences between IME and IBECS. of the 111 Spanish titles included by EMBASE, 81 are present in IME and 65 in IBECS. Altogether there are 52 journals, listed in Table 6, which are not contained in both Spanish databases.

Table 6. – Journals indexed by Embase not included in IME and/or IBECS

Journal Tittle

IME

IBECS

Notes

Acta Ginecológica

X




 

Actualizaciones en Anestesiología y Reanimación

X




 

AIDS Reviews







Without Spanish abstract

Anales de cirugía cardíaca y cirugía vascular

X




 

Anales de la Real Academia de Farmacia




X

 

Anuario de Psicología







 

Atención Farmacéutica

X




 

Circular Farmacéutica







No abstract

Cirugía plástica Ibero-Latinoamericana




X

 

Clínica cardiovascular




X

 

Cuadernos de Artroscopia







 

Cuadernos de medicina reproductiva







Monographic series, is not a proper journal,

Dolor

X




 

Drug news and perspectives







Without Spanish abstract.

Drug R and D Backgrounders







Without Spanish abstract. Is not a journal

Drugs of today







Without Spanish abstract

Drugs of the future







Without Spanish abstract

Enfermedades Emergentes

X




 

European journal of anatomy




X

 

European journal of psychiatry




X

 

GOZE







Discontinued since 2000

Gastroenterología y Hepatología

X




 

Ginecología clínica y quirúrgica*







 

Hematología. Citocinas, Inmunoterapia y Terapia Celular

X




 

Histology and Histopathology







Without Spanish abstract

International Journal of Developmental Biology

X




 

Investigación Cardiovascular

X




 

Investigación Clínica

X




 

Journal of investigational allergology and clinical immunology







Not published in Spain

Journal of Physiology and Biochemistry

X




 

Medicina Paliativa

X




 

Medicina veterinaria







Discontinued since 1999

Methods and findings in experimental and clinical pharmacology







Without Spanish abstract

Pediatría integral

X




 

Pharmaceutical care España




X

 

Psicología conductual




X

 

Puesta al Día en Urgencias Emergencias y Catástrofes

X




 

Química clínica







 

Revisiones en Cáncer

X




 

Revisiones en ginecología y obstetricia







Discontinued since 2001

Revista de ginecología clínica y quirúrgica*







Appears twice (marked with *)

Revista de psicogeriatría







 

Revista de la Asociación Española de especialistas en Medicina del trabajo







Discontinued since 2002

Revista Española de medicina legal







Discontinued since 1999

Revista Iberoamericana de Fertilidad y Reproducción Humana

X




 

Revista Iberoamericana de Micología

X




 

Revista Multidisciplinar de Gerontología

X




 

Sangre







Discontinued since 1999

SD. Revista Médica Internacional sobre Síndrome Down

X




 

Seminarios de la Fundación Española de Reumatología

X




 

S. N.







Discontinued since 2000

Toko Ginecología Práctica

X




 

It can be observed that of the 52 journals that are not included in both Spanish databases, 22 are indexed only by IME and 7 only by IBECS. Going through the column of notes of the remaining 23 journals in Table 6, there are:


7 discontinued. journals,

7 journals without Spanish abstract,

1 journal which is no longer published in Spain,

1 Title does not correspond to a proper journal, but to an electronic site which

gathers information from different Medical webs,

1 journal is duplicated under two different names (Ginecología clínica y quirúrgica and Revista de Ginecología clínica y quirúrgica)


On the list, 6 journals qualify for their presence in the Spanish databases.
Anuario de Psicología,

Cuadernos de Artroscopia,

Cuadernos de medicina reproductiva,

Ginecología clínica y quirúrgica,

Química clínica, and

Revista de Psicogeriatría.

Though the first journal is named Anuario (yearbook), it is published on a quarterly schedule. Possibly due to its title it has not been considered for evaluation by the Spanish databases, as both prefer a greater publication frequency.


Conclusions:


  • The selection criteria for journals demanded by MEDLINE and EMBASE are very similar, and do not seem to explain the difference in coverage of Spanish biomedical journals.

  • A clear influence of geographic origin can be stated in both databases revealed in a greater presence of European publicactions in EMBASE and of USA journals in MEDLINE.

  • The list of journals included in EMBASE is not frequently updated, and contains discontinued tittles from long ago.

  • The selection criteria applied by Spanish Biomedical databases IME and IBECS are also very similar, with the differences that IBECS specifies the exigence of abstracts in Spanish and greater frequency than annual as major factors.

  • Journals whose quality is guaranteed for its inclusion in prestigious International databases as MEDLINE and EMBASE should be included in the Spanish Biomedical databases.

  • The difference between the journals included in both Spanish databases can be related to agreement problems with the publishers more than to different quality criteria.


References:


  1. De-Robbio-A. Indagine comparativa tra database bibliografici. A bibliographic database comparative survey.. - Biblioteche-Oggi. (1999) 17 (7), p. 56-69

  2. Hsieh-M. The development and comparison of biomedical databases. - Bulletin-of-the-Library-Association-of-China. (1999) (63) Dec, p. 1-18.

  3. Snow-B. Alternative medicine information sources. - Database (1998) 21 (3) p. 18-22, 24-6, 28-9

  4. Hammond-R. Negotiating the medical maze. - Library-Association-Record. ( 2001) 103 (4), p. 218-20.

  5. Fikar-C-R; Baglio-R Finding articles written by authors with a specific professional degree: a methodology for retrieving D. P. M. -authored reports. - Bulletin-of-the-Medical-Library-Association. (1997), 85 (4), p. 429-31

  6. Stevens-S-R. Mapping the literature of cytotechnology. - Bulletin-of-the-Medical-Library-Association. (2000), 88 (2), p. 172-7.

  7. Journal selection for Index Medicus/Medline. - http://www. nlm. nih. gov/pubs/factsheets/set. html

  8. Embase journal selection procedures: http://www1. elsevier. com/homepage/sah/spd/site/embase/embase_faqs. html

  9. List of journals indexed in Index Medicus /Medline http://www. nlm. nih. gov/tsd/serials/lji. html
  10. Embase list of journals indexed. Elsevier. Amsterdam, The Netherlands. - ISBN 0-444-51369-8

  11. Bireme Virtual Health Library http://bases. bvs. br

  12. IME database description: http://bddoc. csic. es:8085
13) IBECS database description and lis of journals indexed http:bvs. isciii. es/E/bases. php


APPENDIX 1
Spanish journals in Medline (last edition 2004)

Acta otorrinolaringológica española

Actas españolas de psiquiatría

Actas urológicas españolas

AIDS reviews

Allergologia et immunopathologia

Anales de la Real Academia Nacional de Medicina

Anales de medicina interna

Anales de pediatría

Anales del sistema sanitario de Navarra

Anales otorrinolaringológicos iberoamericanos

Archivos de bronconeumología

Archivos de la Sociedad Española de Oftalmología
Archivos Españoles de Urología

Atención Primaria

Cirugía Pediátrica

Drug news and perspectives

Drugs of today

Enfermedades Infecciosas y Microbiología Clínica

Farmacia Hospitalaria

Gaceta Sanitaria

Gastroenterología y Hepatología

Histology and Histopathology

International Journal of Developmental Biology

International microbiology

Journal of Physiology and Biochemistry

Law and human genome review

Medicina Clínica

Medicina Oral

Methods and findings in experimental and clinical pharmacology

Nefrología

Neurocirugía
Neurología

Nutrición Hospitalaria

Revista Clínica Española

Revista de Medicina de la Universidad de Navarra

Revista de Neurología

Revista Española de Anestesiología y Reanimación

Revista Española de Cardiología

Revista Española de Enfermedades Digestivas

Revista Española de Medicina Nuclear

Revista Española de Quimioterapia

Revista Española de Salud Pública

Revista iberoamericana de Micología

Spanish journal of Psychology

Timely topics in medicine: Cardiovascular diseases


APPENDIX 2
Spanish journals in Embase (last edition 2003)

AIDS Reviews

Acta Ginecológica

Acta Otorrinolaringológica Española

Acta Pediátrica Española

Actas Dermo-Sifiliográficas

Actas Urológicas Españolas

Actualizaciones en Anestesiología y Reanimación

Adicciones

Alergología e Inmunología Clínica

Allergologia et Immunopathologia

Anales de cirugía cardíaca y cirugía vascular

Anales de medicina interna

Anales de Pediatría

Anales de psiquiatría

Anales de la Real Academia de Farmacia

Anales del Sistema Sanitario de Navarra

Angiología

Anuario de Psicología

Archivos de Bronconeumología

Archivos de Medicina del Deporte

Archivos de Psiquiatría

Archivos Españoles de Urología

Atención Farmacéutica

Atención Primaria

Ciencia Ginecológica

Ciencia y Tecnología Pharmacéutica

Circular Farmacéutica

Cirugía plástica Ibero-Latinoamericana

Clínica cardiovascular

Clínica e Investigación en Ginecología y Obstetricia

Cuadernos de Artroscopia

Cuadernos de medicina reproductiva

Dolor


Drug news and perspectives

Drug R and D Backgrounders

Drugs of today

Drugs of the future

Endocrinología y Nutrición

Enfermedades Emergentes

Enfermedades Infecciosas y Microbiología Clínica

European journal of anatomy

European journal of psychiatry

Farmacia Hospitalaria

GOZE

Gastroenterología y Hepatología



Geriátrika

Ginecología clínica y quirúrgica

Hematología. Citocinas, Inmunoterapia y Terapia Celular

Histology and Histopathology

Inmunología

International Journal of Developmental Biology

Investigación Cardiovascular

Investigación Clínica

Journal of investigational allergology and clinical immunology

Journal of Physiology and Biochemistry

Mapfre Medicina

Medicina Clínica

Medicina Cutánea Ibero-Latino-Americana

Medicina Intensiva

Medicina Oral

Medicina Paliativa

Medicina veterinaria

Medifam


Methods and findings in experimental and clinical pharmacology

Neurocirugía

Neurología

Nutrición Clínica y Dietética Hospitalaria

Nutrición Hospitalaria

Oncología

ORL Dips

Pediatría Catalana

Pediatría integral

Pediatrika

Pharmaceutical care España

Psicología conductual

Psiquiatría Biológica

Psiquis


Puesta al Día en Urgencias Emergencias y Catástrofes

Química clínica

Radiología

Revisiones en Cáncer

Revisiones en ginecología y obstetricia

Revista Clínica Española

Revista de Calidad Asistencial

Revista de ginecología clínica y quirúrgica

Revista de Neurología

Revista de Ortopedia y Traumatología

Revista de psicogeriatría

Revista de Psiquiatría de la Facultad de Medicina de Barcelona

Revista de Toxicología

Revista de la Asociación Española de especialistas en Medicina del trabajo

Revista de la Sociedad Española del Dolor

Revista Española de Cardiología

Revista Española de Enfermedades Digestivas

Revista Española de Enfermedades Metabólicas Óseas

Revista Española de Geriatría y Gerontología

Revista Española de medicina legal

Revista Española de Nutrición Comunitaria

Revista Española de Pediatría

Revista Española de quimioterapia

Revista Española de salud pública

Revista Iberoamericana de Fertilidad y Reproducción Humana

Revista Iberoamericana de Micología

Revista Iberoamericana de revisiones en menopausia

Revista Latina de Cardiología

Revista Multidisciplinar de Gerontología

Sangre


SD. Revista Médica Internacional sobre el Síndrome de Down

Seminarios de la Fundación Española de Reumatología



S. N.

Toko Ginecología Práctica












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