The New England Journal of Medicine has been conducting research to better understand their audience. Recently when I attended their Library Advisory Board Meeting they presented the findings of the 2009 Essential Journal Study(PDF). The Essential Journal Study is an independent study which randomly surveyed physicians in 12 specialities. The study sought to find out what journals physicians considered essential to their practice of medicine.
According to the study, physicians are three times more likely to read an essential journal sooner, spend twice as much time reading an essential journal, and they are twice as likely to re-read an essential journal.
When this information was presented at the Board Meeting the first thing I thought was this was extremely valuable information to have for small hospital librarians who are struggling with journal subscription dollars. For a librarian to know what the top ten essential journals are in specialities is extremely helpful for collection development AND to justify journal budget/purchases to administration.
For example, according to the study, the Top Ten Essential Journals in Cardiology are:
- Journal of the American College of Cardiology
- The New England Journal of Medicine
- Journal of the American Medical Association
- American Journal of Cardiology
- Annals of Internal Medicine
- Journal of the American Society of Echocardiography
- Catheterization & CV Intervention
- Mayo Clinic Proceedings
- American Journal of Medicine
These are journals that cardiologists in this study have deemed essential. What is striking is not that JACC occupies the top spot, but that half of the journals in the list are not specifically cardiology journals.
Much of this report is written for those interested in advertising in NEJM. However the information is still helpful to librarians who aren’t interested in purchasing advertising but are equally interested in what physicians read. I know what you are probably thinking, you are probably thinking that Krafty got this information from the New England Journal of Medicine so no wonder their journal is ranked highly as is other non-specialist journals. It is important to know that while NEJM did sponsor the study, it was not identified as the sponsor. The Matalia Group Inc., an independent research organization, designed, administered, and analyzed the study. So NEJM had no control over where they or any other journal was ranked in the study.
Librarians are asked to do more with less so they scrutinize where are money goes. Every bit of information to help librarians make selections is important. Impact factors can be helpful, but small hospital librarians often don’t have the time or resources to get the impact factors for each journal considered for purchase or elimination. Additionally impact factors relate to the publishing of articles and who is citing the articles not specifically how much that journal is read. Library online usage statistics can only take us so far sometimes, especially when we have a short usage history to go on. This is a nice list of the top ten journals deemed essential by the readers themselves. It would have been nice to see what journals are at the bottom of the list, but having the top ten is very helpful to use in conjunction with the other journal evaluation methods.
Look over the list and find out what journals your Cardiologis, Endocrinologists, Gastroenterologists, Hematologists, Hematologists/Oncologists, Infectious Disease Specialists, Internal Medicine Specialists, Nephrologists, Neurologists, Oncologists, Pulmonologists, and Rhuematologists are reading before any other journal. What journals you should be concentrating your collection development budget money on.