I did an entirely unscientific survey today of the table of contents of the several journals from March 1 through May 31, 2015. I evaluated the titles of original research and systematic review articles for their usefulness to a general internist. I considered an article useful if it informed me of information that, as a general internist, I could use to take care of an outpatient or inpatient (non-ICU). I then did a simple proportion of useful studies divided by total studies published. Admittedly there are major limitations of my study but it was informative. Here’s what I found (from least to most useful):
- NEJM 20.4% useful
- Annals of Internal Medicine 25%
- Lancet 29.5%
- JAMA 32.4%
- BMJ 46.1%
- JAMA Internal Medicine 61.5%
I postulated that predigested/preappraised journals would be more useful and they were.
- BMJ EBM 52.2% (2 caveats here: I am an associate editor of BMJ EBM so I have that conflict, and BMJ EBM publishes pediatric, OB/GYN and surgical studies also. Thus, the % of articles for a general internist is reduced as the total number of articles published is fixed at 23 per issue)
- ACP Journal Club 65.7%
Does this surprise you one way or another? Did you expect an even lower percentage or a higher percentage for each journal?
This could be a useful technique to decide which journal(s) to subscribe to. Review the main ones in your area and decide which contains the best content and focus on those journals. Don’t rely on reputation of the journal alone.
Alternatively, get BMJ EBM or ACP Journal Club and read it cover to cover. You will be very up to date if you do that. Only clinically important and methodologically sound articles make it into these publications. In addition, these journals include expert commentary about each article.