MEDLINE stands for the Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System Online, an international database of life sciences and biomedical information. It has been compiled by the U.S. National Library of Medicine and contains information in the fields of medicine, nursing, pharmacy, dentistry, veterinary medicine, healthcare, and preclinical sciences, and also covers biology and biochemistry fields including molecular evolution.
The database is available free on the internet and is fully searchable, with articles taken from refereed and peer-reviewed journals from around the world. A listing on MEDLINE does not mean that the U.S. government or the National Library of Medicine endorses the article.
The database contains over 15 million records from about 5,000 selected publications around the world. It covers articles going back to 1950, although about 15,000 citations are for works that were published earlier but cited in indices from 1950 or later. For recent articles, they are included from the moment they are published, although many journals supply MEDLINE with details electronically and, as a result, some articles are published cited several days before the journals in which they appear may actually be released.
The articles in these publications all have to have been peer reviewed, whereby experts in a particular area study and criticize the articles before publication, rejecting those they deem unsuitable. This system is also known as having the articles refereed. This usually happens with two referees both reading the article—without their identity being known to the submitter or the other referee—and submitting their written reports often within a set time span. With this process, articles in refereed journals are deemed to be of a much higher quality, making MEDLINE of considerably more use to medical professionals and other researchers. All the articles to be included are on the basis of a recommendation by a panel known as the Literature Selection Technical Review Committee, based on scientific policy and quality.
The articles listed on MEDLINE are added daily from Tuesday through Saturday. For those added between 1995 and 2003, about 48 percent were published in the United States, although the authors may well be drawn from different countries. Indeed, it is quite common for several authors from different countries to collaborate on a particular article. Altogether, the journals come from 81 countries. Of all the articles in the database, 88 percent were published in the English language, with 76 percent of them having English-language abstracts written by the authors of the articles.
National Library of Medicine (NLM).
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