Language and country preponderance trends in MEDLINE and its causes

J Med Libr Assoc. 2005 Jul;93(3):381-5.


Objective: The authors characterized the output of MEDLINE papers by language and country of publication during a thirty-four-year time period.

Methods: We classified MEDLINE's journal articles by country of publication (Anglos/Non-Anglos) and language (English/Non-English) for the years 1966 and from 1970 to 2000 at five-year intervals. Eight English-speaking countries were considered Anglos. Linear regression analysis of number of papers versus time was performed.

Results: The global number of papers increased linearly at a rate of 8,142 papers per year. Anglo and English papers also increased linearly (6,740 and 9,199, respectively). Journals of Non-Anglo countries accounted for 25% of the English language increase (2,438 per year). Only Non-English papers decreased at a rate of 1,056 fewer papers per year. These trends have led to overwhelming shares of English and Anglo papers in MEDLINE. In 2000, 68% of all papers were published in the 8 Anglo countries and 90% were written in English.

Conclusions: The Anglo and English preponderances appear to be a consequence of at least two phenomena: (1) editorial policy changes in MEDLINE and in some journals from Non-Anglo countries and (2) factors affecting Non-Anglo researchers in the third world (publication constraints, migration, and undersupport). These are tentative conclusions that need confirmation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bibliography of Medicine
  • Editorial Policies*
  • Humans
  • Language*
  • Library Materials / standards
  • Library Materials / trends*
  • Linear Models
  • MEDLINE / statistics & numerical data
  • MEDLINE / trends*
  • Periodicals as Topic / statistics & numerical data
  • Periodicals as Topic / trends*
  • Publication Bias / statistics & numerical data
  • Publication Bias / trends*
  • Retrospective Studies