Forensic Nurse Guide: Medical Journals
According to Stanford researcher Elise Paradis, the number of articles published on PubMed, the largest medical database available, was over 845,000 in 2009. This staggering number of medical papers presents a significant challenge for nurses and other health professionals who hope to stay abreast of cutting edge research. To compensate, readers can limit themselves to journals that focus on a particular sub-specialty of medicine, such as midwifery or oncology, or they can filter out the fringe journals by using a rating system.
For example, websites for medical journals often publish an impact factor, or IF, which is a ranking of how often their articles are cited in other academic papers. The top ranked nursing journal in 2008, for instance, according to ScienceWatch.com, was Birth: Issues in Prenatal Care, with an IF of 2.84. To put this score into perspective, publications that make it onto this list of the top 1500 cited journals in 2010 all have an IF of over 1.0, and the highest-rated impact was 58.286 for that year. Nurses who have a hard time deciding between the myriad medical journals available can use the IF to help assess a periodical’s significance in the field. However, the sub-discipline of medicine (obstetrics, etc.) that a journal concentrates on necessarily lowers its impact because it reaches a smaller readership, so the IF should not be the only measure of a publication’s worth. The following journals, however, are a good starting sample.
Since this page is part of a nursing resource, two kinds of journals are described here: nursing journals and medical journals that focus on a particular sub-field: epidemiology, dermatology, and so on. The exception is the New England Journal of Medicine, which is included for its wide readership and its host website that allows visitors to easily refine their search for articles by medical discipline. On this page, the two main sections are for subscriber-only journals and free journals. The journals that require subscriptions may offer some free content, such as letters, front matter, and an occasional article, but most of the content is locked. Free Online Journals, on the other hand, have a large enough amount of viewable content that a non-subscriber can use them to conduct research. The American Medical Association’s Archives journals, for example, require a subscription for the majority of their articles, but allow readers to view issues published within a roughly 10-year timeframe without charge.
Free Online Journals
- The American Journal of Epidemiology, from Oxford Journals, had an impact factor of 5.589 in 2009 and is listed in dozens of databases, including PROQUEST and Journal Watch. Epidemiology is the study of health data in whole populations, such as flu epidemics, risks of certain cancers among specific demographics, and so on.Â AJE is the flagship journal of this field, providing articles as far back as 1921 and many recent issues (from 2000 onward) without a subscription.
- The American Journal of Nursing, by LWW, offers letters, reports, drug developments, and occasionally main articles for free. This is oldest major journal for nurses still in print, its first available issues having been published in 1900.Â The AJN is also one of the highest profile nursing publications and can be found on numerous databases.
- Archives of Dermatology requires a subscription for current issues and archived issues before 1998 (going back to 1920), but issues between 1998 and today can be viewed for free in HTML and PDF format, and often come with visual aids such as medical images. Dermatology is the branch of medicine that addresses both cosmetic and medical skincare, including the prevention of melanoma.Â Dermatology has been publishing papers since 1882 that derive from both surgical and pharmacological research.
- Archives of Neurology, like the Archives of Dermatology, is published by the American Medical Association and provides free content between 1998 and the current issue, and archives subscriber-only content from 1959 to the present (although the journal was established in 1919).Â Neurology is published monthly and serves as a research forum for disorders of the nervous system, such as Alzheimer’s and epilepsy. The journal accepts nearly 20% of contributed articles and had an IF of 6.31 as of 2009.
- Archives of Ophthalmology, yet another AMA-hosted periodical with the same limited span of free volumes, has the oldest back issues available online of the three Archives journals, starting in 1929 (although the first issues appeared in 1869).Â Ophthalmology’s IF was 3.86 in 2009 and the journal rejects about 70% of its 800-odd submissions each year. In medicine, ophthalmologists study the eyes and eye diseases and can perform surgery, unlike optometrists who provide more basic services. Articles on ophthalmology address glaucoma, eye implants, and other topics.
- Blood is a leading hematology journal with issues that begin in 1946, and are available in HTML format from 1997 onward.Â Blood’s policy is to only require a subscription for issues that have been published in the last 12 months, although abstracts, commentary, and five scientific articles per month can be viewed at no charge. The journal’s impact factor is 10.555 and focuses on investigating disorders of the blood, immunology, and related topics.
- Endocrinology, published by the Endocrine Society, posts issues online from 1997 to the present for free, with the exception of the most current issue, and archives articles as far back as 1917, which are available through subscription.Â Endocrinology’s website allows visitors to search articles by keyword, date, author, title, and number of other options. The monthly journal, which had an IF of 5.103 in 2009, focuses on hormones that affect the body’s metabolism, tissue repair, and other internal functions. Finally, the Endocrine Society also publishes the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism and Molecular Endocrinology.
- The Journal of Clinical Oncology, with a 2009 impact factor of 17.793, is the official journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and rejects about 85% of submissions. The journal’s scope is the practical diagnosis and treatment of cancerous tumors, with articles often organized by disease type: breast cancer, gastrointestinal cancer, and so on. Articles are free from 1999 onward, except for those from the most recent issues, and are available for one-time purchase from as early as 1983.
- The Journal of Immunology is divided into the following sections: scientific papers that report on experiments, news of major advances in the field, reviews of books and other works, and letters to the editor. The publication’s IF is 5.646 and accepts a little over 40% of full-length papers submitted. As with most of the other field-specific journals in this list, issues are available to view online without a subscription from 1998 to the present, except for the most recent articles. Issues available for purchase are archived back to 1916.
- The New England Journal of Medicine provides several different ways that visitors can browse its vast archives. Articles, for example, are divided into reviews, research papers, case studies, editorials, and other categories. Medical sub-disciplines, such as cardiology and nephrology, can also be used to filter results. Finally, there is a ‘For Authors’ tab that allows contributors to submit manuscripts and track their progress. The NEJM has a weekly readership of over half a million people each week and is oldest medical journal in print, with issues starting in 1812. Furthermore, many of these issues are available to view for free.
- The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing is set up to be viewed online, providing articles in easy-to-access HTML format as far back as 1996. The entire website is devoted to viewing content from the journal, including tabs for letters to the editor, columns, topics, and news. However, the yearly issues are still organized by date and volume number and the publication is peer-reviewed just like a print journal.
Journals that Require Subscriptions
- Advanced Emergency Nursing Journal , publish by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins (LWW), generally requires a subscription, but also lists free articles (viewable in HTML or PDF format) on the right side of the page.Â AENJ, whose publisher is Kathleen M. Phelan, is geared toward nurse practitioners, bringing to light developments in the application of medicine that can be put into practice. Issues are available as far back as 1979.
- American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, also known as the Gray Journal, focuses on reproductive health, pregnancy complications, prenatal care, and other issues related to childbirth and women’s health. Obstetrics differs from midwifery in that it is broader in scope, focusing on patients at all stages of pregnancy and the postnatal period. Issues of the journal are available from 2010 onward, and all require a subscription to view.
- The International Journal of Nursing Studies is one of the top most-cited nursing journals of 2008 with a quick response time (about 4 weeks) for researchers who submit editorials. Extra emphasis is put on screening submissions for the quality of their research and their relevance. Besides accepting scientific papers that result from direct experimentation in medicine, IJNS also publishes articles on the logistical side of nursing: employment, management, policies, and so on. The earliest issues available online are from 1995.
- Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health, with an IF of 1.127, publishes both scientific papers and articles about policy and public health trends. Current issues are available to view online for free, but all others (available from 1955 to the present) require registration. Postpartum depression, breastfeeding, pregnancy complications, and other issues associated with childbirth and women’s health represent the journal’s typical content.
- Journal of Professional Nursing requires a subscription, although sometimes individual articles (especially editorials and front matter) and entire issues (such as the January 2011 issue) are available for free. The JPN is primarily aimed at nurses with 4-year degrees or higher and contains articles about health policy and administrative issues in government, university, and private facilities. The journal’s website allows users to search the content of issues from 1995 onward.
- Western Journal of Nursing Research, begun in 1979, allows subscribers to view articles online before they are available in print. The periodical publishes both scientific papers that reflect experiments on breastfeeding, depression, teen parenting, and a host of other concerns, as well as surveys of research. The WJNR has an impact factor of 1.090 and is hosted by Sage Journals.