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AMIA Annu Symp Proc. 2005; 2005: 1018.
PMCID: PMC1560603

Publication Trends and Impact Factors in the Medical Informatics Literature


We survey the “evolution” of the field of Medical Informatics by describing trends in volume (quantity) of Medical Informatics-indexed publications, identifying major journals of publication and their focus areas and presenting trends in impact factor scores during the 1994–2003 period. Changes in total impact-scores suggest an increasing trend of publication in journals of higher impact.


Successive formal definitions of medical informatics have been put forth, each one building on the previous [1]. We use bibliometric [2] and impact factor (IF) [3] analysis to help describe how the field has evolved, and in what directions. Bilbiometrics has been defined as the use of statistical methods to analyze a body of literature to reveal historical development [4]. Journal IF is a measure of the frequency of citation in a particular year for the average journal article. It is calculated by dividing current year citations to articles published in the previous two years, by total number of articles published in the previous two years [5].


We searched MEDLINE/ PubMed utilizing, “Medical Informatics” [MeSH terms], exploded, limited to the English language for each year of the 1994–2003 period. Queries were created to identify and count unique journals publishing 25 or more articles per year. Journals were ranked by yearly total publications and also coded with one of the following general descriptive terms: bio (medical) informatics (BI), general informatics (GI), management of information (MGTI), imaging (IMG), general medical (GM), public health informatics (PH), and other (O). Impact Factors (IF) were identified for the corresponding journals from ISI Citation Reports, and a total impact-score [6] for each year was determined by totaling individual impact factors of those journals with 25 or more indexed publications. We compared retrieved medical informatics-specific MeSH indexed articles to total articles indexed for the specific journal for the years 1998–2003, during which period all journals were consistently published.


The total number of Medical Informatics MeSH-indexed publications in 2003 (8859) was more than twice that for 1994 (3768). The number of unique journals represented among those publishing 25 or more articles totaled 44 in 2003 as opposed to 26 in 1994. Bioinformatics (BI) journals comprised the largest category each year in analysis by journal focus area. The number of unique BI journals with 25 or more articles indexed per year increased steadily over the ten year period from 8 in 1994 to 21 in 2003. Total impact-score increased from 81.4 in 1994 to 188.7 in 2003. For 2003, 27.3% of the articles had an IF of 5 or greater as opposed to 10% in 1996. Among general medical journals with 25 or more articles indexed yearly, British Medical Journal was represented in each year of the 1996–2003 period. Other general medical journals represented in multiple years were Lancet and JAMA. Retrieval rates did vary for bio (medical) informatics journals and those not strictly “bio”-focused. An average of 51% of the total number of indexed articles over the 1998–2003 period appearing in the journal Bioinformatics were medical informatics MeSH-indexed. Other informatics-specific retrieval rates for journals with over 25 MeSH-indexed informatics articles were: Genome Research - 21%; Nucleic Acids Research - 17%; JAMIA - 71%; and International Journal of Medical Informatics - 83%.


The most striking trend was the increase in number of bio (medical) focused journals from 1999–2003, despite low retrieval rates for journals of this category. This most likely mirrors this burgeoning field and area of research. Changes in total impact-scores over the 1996–2003 period infer increasing publication in journals of higher impact. This is consistent with the increase in the percentage of higher impact journals (10% to 27.3%) over the 1996–2003 period. Overall, publication volume, journals of publication and citation patterns reflect increasing visibility and breadth of the field.


1. About AMIA, FAQS, Accessed March 2, 2005; URL: http://www.amia.org/history/what.html
2. Lutman M. Bibliometric analysis as a measure of scientific output. Br J Audiol. 1992;26(6):323–4. [PubMed]
3. Garfield E. Citation indexing—its theory and application in science, technology and humanities. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1972.
4. Young H. ALA Glossary of Library and Information Science. Chicago: American Library Association, 1983.
5. ISI Web of Knowledge, Accessed March 8, 2005; URL: http://isi7.isiknowledge.com/portal.cgi
6. Moorman P. An inventory of publications on computer-based medical records: An update. Methods Inf Med. 2003;42(3):199–202. [PubMed]

Articles from AMIA Annual Symposium Proceedings are provided here courtesy of American Medical Informatics Association
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