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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Publication trends in the medical informatics literature: 20 years of "Medical Informatics" in MeSH

Jonathan P DeShazo12*, Donna L LaVallie1 and Fredric M Wolf123

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medical Education and Biomedical Informatics, University of Washington, Box 357240, Seattle, WA 98195-7240, USA

2 Department of Health Services, University of Washington, Box 357240, Seattle, WA 98195-7240, USA

3 Department of Epidemiology, University of Washington, Box 357240, Seattle, WA 98195-7240, USA

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BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2009, 9:7  doi:10.1186/1472-6947-9-7

Published: 21 January 2009



The purpose of this study is to identify publication output, and research areas, as well as descriptively and quantitatively characterize the field of medical informatics through publication trend analysis over a twenty year period (1987–2006).


A bibliometric analysis of medical informatics citations indexed in Medline was performed using publication trends, journal frequency, impact factors, MeSH term frequencies and characteristics of citations.


There were 77,023 medical informatics articles published during this 20 year period in 4,644 unique journals. The average annual article publication growth rate was 12%. The 50 identified medical informatics MeSH terms are rarely assigned together to the same document and are almost exclusively paired with a non-medical informatics MeSH term, suggesting a strong interdisciplinary trend. Trends in citations, journals, and MeSH categories of medical informatics output for the 20-year period are summarized. Average impact factor scores and weighted average impact factor scores increased over the 20-year period with two notable growth periods.


There is a steadily growing presence and increasing visibility of medical informatics literature over the years. Patterns in research output that seem to characterize the historic trends and current components of the field of medical informatics suggest it may be a maturing discipline, and highlight specific journals in which the medical informatics literature appears most frequently, including general medical journals as well as informatics-specific journals.