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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A medical journal is a scientific journal devoted to the field of medicine. Most medical journals are peer-reviewed. Medical journals commonly arose as the journal of societies, such as the precursor to the British Medical Association, and would originally be collections of letters sent to the society by distant members, with an account of the proceedings of the society's recent meetings distributed to various members and the library. The increase in medical research since WWII has seen a rapid increase in the number of articles and medical journals.

Some of the better known medical journals with high impact factors (a measure of journal prestige) are:



Medical journals are mainly read by doctors rather than scientists, but they are "filled with increasingly complex science" which depends upon complex statistics which doctors may have difficulty understanding. In response they have turned towards publishing "articles that are more journalism than science" such as reviews, news, and educational material.[1] However, science is what attracts major attention and leads institutions to purchase subscriptions.[1]

Review process

For an article to be accepted for publication in a medical journal it must undergo a review process. Each journal creates its own process, but they have certain common characteristics in general. There are various general "levels" of scrutiny, which have some effect on the respect given to articles published in the journals. Some broad categories might be editorial review, peer review, and blind peer review. Richard Smith, former editor of the British Medical Journal, stated in 2006 that studies had found peer review to be ineffective and prone to abuse, but noted that editors consider it invaluable.[1]


Editorial review

In this process, articles which meet the minimum requirements for submission (such as including the necessary descriptions of funding, privacy and publication releases, ethics/institutional review board approval, statements of original work, signatures of authors, and so on,) are first looked over by a managing editor or a member of an editorial board. They may be referred back to the authors for revision and resubmission, rejected, or presented to the editorial board for final approval.

Peer review

A more stringent review process includes a full peer review. After first review by a managing editor or member of an editorial board, an article which has good possibilities will be sent out for review by two or more researchers in the specific area. If these reviews are positive the article may be referred back to the authors to address any comments by the reviewers, or (rarely) may be accepted immediately by the editorial board.

Blind review

One common review process is the same as the peer review above, except all references to the authors are removed from the article before review by the researchers. This has been particularly important in medical research as there is a strong bias against articles produced by non-physicians, which are more likely to get rejected.


Medical journals are a single field of scientific endeavour, but cover a wide range of topics. Inevitably there is a need for specialization. Generally speaking the journals tend to be intervention/practice focused. They may be categorized by medical specialization, client age focus, or practice focus.

A recent development is that some scientific journals have adopted a full video presentation format, such as the Journal of Visualized Experiments.

Internet and open access

By the end of the 20th century, most medical journals were available online, the BMJ notably so, thus increasing their accessibility. There is a general move from print as primary medium to electronic publication, an example being the online journals published by BioMed Central.

With the advent of online publication, many medical journals are transforming from traditional subscription-based and pay-per-view access to open access for some or all of their content. For example, all the research published by BioMed Central's journals is open access, the Canadian Medical Association Journal is open access, and Journal of Clinical Investigation has its archive completely open access. The open access journal PLoS Medicine has established a good reputation since it launched in 2004.

See also


  1. ^ a b c Smith R (March 2006). "The trouble with medical journals". J R Soc Med 99 (3): 115–9. doi:10.1258/jrsm.99.3.115. PMID 16508048.   Free full text.


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