Background: MedLine (ML) database in CD-ROM, one of the most popular sources for bibliographic citations and abstracts of medical-biomedical literature, is also being widely used as a bibliometric tool. The usefulness of MedLine for bibliometric purposes needs to be evaluated.
Material and methods: A database (BDML) of the Spanish publications in medical-biomedical journals has been derived from ML in the period 1990-1994 searching for SPAIN or ESPANA in the author address (AD) and/or in the country of publication (CP) fields. Retrieved documents correspond to original and review articles. The journals were assigned to SCI categories and impact factors according to the Journal Citation Reports (1990 and 1994 issues). BDML contents were compared with the documents indexed in SCI-SSCI databases (1990-1993) as reported (Camí J et al. Med Clin [Barc] 1997; 109: 481-496).
Results: Spanish production in medical and biomedical publications indexed in BDML amounts to 27,452 documents in 1,639 journals or 19,915 documents in the 1,339 journals listed in JCR. This represents 3,983 articles and reviews in SCI journals per year on average. Similar calculation for the Spanish articles and reviews indexed in SCI-SSCI databases (1990-93) gives a rate of 3,727 documents/year. Coverage of biomedical literature in ML is much lower than in SCI + SSCI (11,729 and 15,723 documents respectively) although the differences can be lowered taking into account that SCI documents include case reports and letters to the Editor which can not be retrieved from ML searchs in the AD field. On the contrary, more Spanish articles in medical disciplines were retrieved from ML (15,723) than SCI + SSCI databases (7,858). ML indexes more Spanish medical journals than SCI (36 journals and 11,400 articles in ML90-94 against 12 journals and 1,622 documents in SCI90-93).
Conclusions: The results validate the usefulness of MedLine for bibliometric studies in medical sciences.