In December 2016, the National Library of Medicine (NLM) established the MeSH (Medical Subject Heading) Indexing Assessment Project to evaluate the impact on users of assigning MeSH terms to MEDLINE citations, a process referred to as MEDLINE indexing. Specifically, the purpose of the project was to evaluate the extent to which MeSH terms currently assigned to MEDLINE citations have a positive impact and for what purposes are they used and by whom. The project findings confirmed the value of MEDLINE indexing and the value of applying selected non-subject metadata to MEDLINE citations.
In response to the findings and as part of the NLM Strategic Plan, NLM created a five-year MEDLINE development plan and charged the Library Operations Index Section with coordinating its implementation. The development plan is called MEDLINE 2022. The MEDLINE 2022 Working Group is comprised of members from across all NLM departments.
MEDLINE 2022 has eight specific goals that describe challenges that must be addressed to maintain usefulness of MEDLINE as a tool for discovering and analyzing the biomedical research literature:
1 Investigate the use of authoritative vocabularies in MEDLINE indexing in addition to, or as a partial replacement for MeSH, for some topics or types of metadata, for example, chemical names
2 Implement a range of indexing methods to ensure the timely assignment of MeSH or terms from other approved vocabularies to MEDLINE citations
3 Support the discoverability of ClinicalTrials.gov content
4 Support the pharmacology and toxicology research communities by sustaining and improving the discoverability of chemical information in MEDLINE/PubMed citations
5 Support NIH and other funding organizations by ensuring the discoverability of funding information in MEDLINE/PubMed
6 Support the genetics research community by adding relevant gene information to MEDLINE/PubMed citations
7 Support the NLM pivot to data science as described in the new NLM Strategic Plan
8 Update MEDLINE journal requirements to support these goals and strategies
The goals of MEDLINE 2022 align with the goals of the NLM Strategic Plan, most importantly Goal 1: Accelerate discovery and advance health by providing the tools for data-driven research. MEDLINE has provided access to the biomedical literature for more than 45 years, evolving as publishing and information retrieval have evolved. The MEDLINE 2022 project aims to ensure that MEDLINE continues to evolve to meet the needs of users in an age of data-driven discovery.
NLM will keep our many stakeholders informed of our progress with the implementation of MEDLINE 2022. Look for future NLM Technical Bulletin articles with details about different aspects of this project.