The birth and evolution of a discipline devoted to information in biomedicine and health care. As reflected in its longest running journal

A T McCray, O Gefeller, D Aronsky, T Y Leong, I N Sarkar, D Bergemann, D A B Lindberg, J H van Bemmel, R Haux
Methods of Information in Medicine 2011, 50 (6): 491-507

BACKGROUND: The journal Methods of Information in Medicine, founded in 1962, has now completed its 50th volume. Its publications during the last five decades reflect the formation of a discipline that deals with information in biomedicine and health care.

OBJECTIVES: To report about 1) the journal's origin, 2) the individuals who have significantly contributed to it, 3) trends in the journal's aims and scope, 4) influential papers and 5) major topics published in Methods over the years.

METHODS: Methods included analysing the correspondence and journal issues in the archives of the editorial office and of the publisher, citation analysis using the ISI and Scopus databases, and analysing the articles' Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) in MEDLINE.

RESULTS: In the journal's first 50 years 208 editorial board members and/or editors contributed to the journal's development, with most individuals coming from Europe and North America. The median time of service was 11 years. At the time of analysis 2,456 articles had been indexed with MeSH. Topics included computerized systems of various types, informatics methodologies, and topics related to a specific medical domain. Some MeSH topic entries were heavily and regularly represented in each of the journal's five decades (e.g. information systems and medical records), while others were important in a particular decade, but not in other decades (e.g. punched-card systems and systems integration). Seven papers were cited more than 100 times and these also covered a broad range of themes such as knowledge representation, analysis of biomedical data and knowledge, clinical decision support and electronic patient records.

CONCLUSIONS: Methods of Information in Medicine is the oldest international journal in biomedical informatics. The journal's development over the last 50 years correlates with the formation of this new discipline. It has and continues to stress the basic methodology and scientific fundamentals of organizing, representing and analysing data, information and knowledge in biomedicine and health care. It has and continues to stimulate multidisciplinary communication on research that is devoted to high-quality, efficient health care, to quality of life and to the progress of biomedicine and the health sciences.

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