Medscape General Medicine Is Now Indexed by MEDLINE

Nancy Gray Puckett, MA and George D. Lundberg, MD


September 07, 2000


In April 1999, Medscape launched Medscape General Medicine (MedGenMed). It was then the first and is still the only fully electronic, primary source, peer-reviewed, general medical journal. Since then, this baby journal has taken its first steps, grown and thrived. We are pleased to announce today a new milestone: Medscape General Medicine has been selected for indexing in Index Medicus and on MEDLINE.

Index Medicus and MEDLINE are publications and services of the National Library of Medicine (NLM). (For information about the NLM, Index Medicus, and MEDLINE, see the NLM Web site at: William B. Bean, MD, in the preface to A History of the National Library of Medicine: The Nation's Treasury of Medical Knowledge, said that the "NLM and its offspring have become the central nervous system of American medical thought and research."[1] Today one might argue that the NLM and its offspring are the central nervous system of virtually all international medical thought and research. Index Medicus and its electronic counterpart, MEDLINE, provide the world with access to the world's biomedical journal literature. The selection of journals for this prestigious database is based on the recommendations of a National Institutes of Health-chartered committee of leading authorities in the field of biomedicine and healthcare, the Literature Selection Technical Review Committee (LSTRC). (According to the NLM, "There is a rough analogy to the National Institutes of Health's decision-making process with respect to research grant awards."[2]) The Committee meets 3 times a year, reviewing approximately 120 titles at each meeting and assessing the quality of journals under consideration. Criteria for inclusion are rigorous. The NLM identifies several critical elements for scrutiny:

  • Scope and coverage

  • Quality of content

  • Quality of editorial work

  • Production quality

  • Audience

  • Types of content

Overall, only about 15% to 20% of the titles reviewed are selected for indexing. Medscape General Medicine becomes 1 of only 11 fully electronic journals included on MEDLINE. Another of those fully electronic journals is Medscape Women's Health, which has been a part of MEDLINE since 1998.

The NLM estimates there are approximately 14,000 biomedical titles currently published worldwide, 4300 of which are indexed and included on MEDLINE. ( provides access to MEDLINE among its search options. Medscape also offers Medscape Select, which focuses on a virtual core collection of journal titles and allows Medscape members to search the 269 MEDLINE-indexed journals that most meet the needs of busy practitioners.) It is a testament to the authority and efficacy of MEDLINE that it boasts 1 million requested searches each business day, some 250 million searches each year by health professionals, scientists, librarians, and the public. MedGenMed participation in Index Medicus and MEDLINE will begin shortly, and indexing will include all appropriate articles from the journal's inception.

Index Medicus debuted in January 1879 with a "Prospectus" by its editor, John Shaw Billings (Surgeon, US Army), which noted:

Few words are required to demonstrate the utility of the projected serial. In its pages the practitioner will find the titles of parallels for his anomalous cases, accounts of new remedies, and the latest methods in therapeutics. The teacher will observe what is being written or taught by the masters of his art in all countries. The author will be enabled to add the latest views and cases to his forthcoming work, or to discover where he has been anticipated by other writers, and the publishers of medical books and periodicals must necessarily profit by the publicity given to their productions. [3]

Though the medium has changed dramatically, MEDLINE remains true to Dr. Billings' message.

When the NLM launched its indexing endeavors, a letter of support written in 1879 could have been written today: "I am filled with admiration at your ability with however much help to bring out so vast a work & I am also filled with dispair [sic] that there should be such a mighty mass of medical literature."[1] The medical literature continues to grow and the value of Index Medicus and MEDLINE is even greater. Today, medical journal publishing is experiencing exciting changes. The medium of ink on paper is a paradigm fast in the process of shifting. Medscape General Medicine is leading the way for the new paradigm of medical journal publishing, and we are proud to be a part of the great tradition of Index Medicus and MEDLINE. As noted in the first MedGenMed editorial, "the journal is new, but our vision and experience are time-tested."[4] The announcement of our inclusion in Index Medicus and MEDLINE is excellent news for our esteemed authors, our world-class editorial board, and our ever-growing pool of expert peer reviewers, and especially our readers and potential readers, who are drawn from the 2,600,000 registered Medscape members. All share in and benefit from this success.