January 24, 2022

National Library of Medicine (NLM) is Transitioning to Automated MeSH Indexing of MEDLINE Citations in PubMed

From the National Library of Medicine Technical Bulletin:

As part of the efforts of the National Library of Medicine (NLM) to transform and accelerate biomedical discovery and improve health and health care, we are transitioning to automated MeSH indexing of MEDLINE citations in PubMed. Automated indexing will provide users with timely access to MeSH indexed metadata and allow NLM to scale MeSH indexing for MEDLINE to the volume of published biomedical literature. Human indexers have been and will continue to be involved in the refinement of automated indexing algorithms and will play a significant role in the quality assurance approaches for automated indexing.


Automated MeSH indexing has been under development at NLM for many years and the most significant outcome is the development of the Medical Text Indexer (MTI) by researchers in the Lister Hill National Center for Biomedical Communications. MTI is not new; it has been used to provide indexing suggestions for human indexers since 2002 and was incorporated as the “first line” of indexing with subsequent human curation for a set of journals starting in 2011. Automated indexing with a version of MTI has been used for comments since 2016, OLDMEDLINE citations since 2015, and for processing an experimental batch of backlogged citations in 2016. Since 2018, the method of indexing has been identified in the XML of all completed citations.


By mid-2022 we expect that all citations indexed for MEDLINE will be indexed by MTIA, with human curation applied as indicated. Beyond achievement of this major milestone, the MTIA algorithm will continue to be refined and improved.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.