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J Med Libr Assoc. 2004 Jan;92(1):34-45.

Research on the value of medical library services: does it make an impact in the health care literature?

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Health Sciences Center Library, University of Florida, P.O. Box 100206, Gainesville, Florida, USA.



To evaluate the impact in the health care literature of research articles that provided evidence of the value of library services (including MEDLINE) as an element of quality health care. DATA SOURCES/SELECTION: Four research articles on the relationship between use of library services and quality health care were selected as "primary articles" from a MEDLINE search using appropriate Medical Subject Heading. Primary articles met the following criteria: written in English, reported research, related to clinical care, and published before 1995.


The technique of citation analysis was used to measure the impact of the primary articles on the subsequent literature. The number, authorship, type, and publication venue of articles citing the primary articles were determined using ISI Web of Science, MEDLINE, other electronic resources, and the citing articles themselves. For the 146 English-language citing articles, the article type (i.e., advocacy, instructional, research) was noted; and, for those that reported research, the use to which the author put the cited material was determined.


The primary articles were cited more often than the average articles published that year in the same journals. At the time of the study each article had been cited almost every year since publication. Of the 146 citing articles written in English, 43% were written by librarians, 38% by physicians, 12% by librarians with physicians. The majority were published in medical journals, followed in order of decreasing frequency by the Bulletin of the Medical Library Association, information science journals, and health administration journals.


The results of this study demonstrate that published research on the value of medical library services has an impact on the literature. These articles are read and cited and continue to be of value.

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