Quality filtering of the clinical literature by librarians and physicians

Bull Med Libr Assoc. 1993 Jan;81(1):38-43.


A study was conducted at the University of Pittsburgh to determine the effectiveness of the selection process by clinical medical librarians and to identify the criteria used by librarians and physicians to select relevant articles. The study analyzed the similarity between librarian and physician selections, the decision-making processes used by librarians and physicians, and the utility of librarian selections versus those of physicians. No significant difference in utility between librarian and physician selection was found, suggesting that librarians can recognize and select useful articles as effectively as physicians. Both librarians and physicians based selection decisions primarily on article title, abstract, and journal title. Librarians were more likely to focus on Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) descriptors, while physicians focused on clinical applicability or similarity to a specific case. Journal selection data indicate that the principle internal medicine journals were the most frequently selected sources. The study demonstrates that librarians can effectively serve a quality filtering function in the clinical environment, and they should consider extending quality filtering activities to other arenas.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Information Storage and Retrieval
  • Libraries, Medical*
  • Library Science*
  • Periodicals as Topic / standards*
  • Physician's Role*
  • Quality Control
  • Subject Headings