Future of Biomedical Publishing

A medical librarian friend of mine agreed to answer questions for a week on NEJM Resident 360. It involved some future casting and she emailed the medical librarian listserve to pick our brains. I sent her a few crystal ball predictions and she thought they were good and I should post them on the blog to further the discussion.

So, here is the question: What does the future of delivering medical literature and latest research hold?<https://resident360.nejm.org/posts/6339>

Here are my thoughts:

  • We are going to see more movement in the area of Open Textbooks.  Open access journals have started paving the way and now with more institutions really looking into curbing the costs of textbooks you are going to see medical schools and hospitals go in that direction once the larger universities really start committing to that idea.
  • There are going to be some big changes to peer review and publishing editorial boards to have more transparent data, information, etc. Currently we are living in a world that questions established medical facts as false.  Part of the problem is that there wasn’t enough vetting or the ability to vet information that allowed questionable, conflict of interest,  or fake articles to be published.  These questionable articles hurt the entire profession and cause people to distrust good information.  It took over 10 years to Andrew Wakefield’s article to be officially retracted. We need to ask ourselves, would the autism vs vaccines controversy have become as big as it was if the data was published immediately?
  • Reproducible data is getting more and more important.  With NIH’s data sharing requirements and the increase in data repositories, the ability reproduce research based on the data is extremely important.  However, a recent Nature study http://www.nature.com/news/1-500-scientists-lift-the-lid-on-reproducibility-1.19970 found that 70% of researchers tried and failed to reproduce another scientist’s experiments and more than half of the scientists failed to reproduce their own experiments.  Yet we must be able to sort through the false leads from the latest discoveries.
  • Access will be more integrated.  Currently you can do a search in PubMed and links to the full text are available along with similar articles and citing articles.  Electronic medical health records can integrate health information such as UpToDate into the medical record.  I think as we move forward the literature will be more “on demand” and more integrated in other resources.
  • We will see more medical literature delivered via social media in the next few years.  The real growth is customized on demand information retrieval.  I can see where something like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home could interface with medical journals table of contents and articles and give you the latest updates or sync with your device or car and listen to the article while you are commuting.  Similar to a Browzine for the Echo or Home.

What do you see in your crystal ball?

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