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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Correspondence

GenBank and PubMed: How connected are they?

Holly Miller1, Catherine N Norton1 and Indra Neil Sarkar2*

Author Affiliations

1 MBLWHOI Library, Marine Biological Laboratory, 7 MBL Street, Woods Hole, MA 02543, USA

2 Current address: Center for Clinical and Translational Science, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05401, USA

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BMC Research Notes 2009, 2:101  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-2-101

Published: 9 June 2009



GenBank(R) is a public repository of all publicly available molecular sequence data from a range of sources. In addition to relevant metadata (e.g., sequence description, source organism and taxonomy), publication information is recorded in the GenBank data file. The identification of literature associated with a given molecular sequence may be an essential first step in developing research hypotheses. Although many of the publications associated with GenBank records may not be linked into or part of complementary literature databases (e.g., PubMed), GenBank records associated with literature indexed in Medline are identifiable as they contain PubMed identifiers (PMIDs).


Here we show that an analysis of 87,116,501 GenBank sequence files reveals that 42% are associated with a publication or patent. Of these, 71% are associated with PMIDs, and can therefore be linked to a citation record in the PubMed database. The remaining (29%) of publication-associated GenBank entries either do not have PMIDs or cite a publication that is not currently indexed by PubMed. We also identify the journal titles that are linked through citations in the GenBank files to the largest number of sequences.


Our analysis suggests that GenBank contains molecular sequences from a range of disciplines beyond biomedicine, the initial scope of PubMed. The findings thus suggest opportunities to develop mechanisms for integrating biological knowledge beyond the biomedical field.