Journal Selection for PMC
The National Library of Medicine (NLM) decides whether the scientific and editorial character and quality of a journal merit its inclusion in PMC. In making this decision NLM considers the suitability of the journal for the NLM collection (based on the criteria in the Collection Development Guidelines), as well as the recommendations of external, expert consultants. The current scientific and editorial quality review process for journals that apply to participate in PMC has been in place since November 2014.
The consultants include scientists (i.e., Ph.D.- or M.D.-level researchers and physicians) and medical librarians. At least two consultants, usually one scientist and one librarian, review each journal. The consultants generally review articles from the last two years of journal content and evaluate them primarily based on scientific and editorial quality. Their recommendations are taken into consideration by NLM in reaching a final decision on selecting a title for inclusion in PMC.
Journals that already are fully indexed for MEDLINE generally will not require further scientific review for PMC.
Scientific and Editorial Quality Assessment
The scientific quality assessment for PMC focuses on the scientific rigor of the articles examined. NLM uses the definition of scientific rigor provided by the NIH Office of Extramural Research, which defines scientific rigor as "the strict application of the scientific method to ensure robust and unbiased experimental design, methodology, analysis, interpretation and reporting of results. This includes full transparency in reporting experimental details so that others may reproduce and extend the findings." NLM also looks for journals to demonstrate good editorial quality and elements that contribute to the objectivity and credibility of the content in deciding whether to select a journal for PMC.
Examples of the types of questions PMC consultants may consider when performing their evaluations include:
|Figure and table quality||
|Formatting and organization||
|Editorial board and authorship||
In addition to the above, as outlined in the Collection Development Guidelines, review articles should generally contain substantive summaries and analysis of recent research in a field. Case reports should include thorough and detailed case presentations, as well as substantial discussions about the relevance to clinical practice and research. Protocols should provide complete methodological detail that allows for reproducibility, including sample sizes, description of materials, planned data/statistical analyses, and any ethical requirements.
Reporting Guidelines and Best Practices
There are numerous resources available that can aid authors and journals in improving article quality. As examples, some resources NLM encourages journals and authors to reference are:
- Human research: Helsinki Declaration as revised in 2013
- Systematic reviews and meta-analyses: PRISMA guidelines (for protocols, see the PRISMA-P guidelines)
- Case reports: the CARE case report guidelines
- Clinical trials: CONSORT (for protocols, see the SPIRIT guidance)
- Animal studies: ARRIVE and Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals
For a more comprehensive list see the Research and Reporting Guidelines list maintained by NLM. This resource lists the major biomedical research reporting guidelines that provide advice for reporting research methods and findings. They usually "specify a minimum set of items required for a clear and transparent account of what was done and what was found in a research study, reflecting, in particular, issues that might introduce bias into the research" (Adapted from the EQUATOR Network Resource Centre). The chart also includes editorial style guides for writing research reports or other publications.
In addition, NLM expects journals to demonstrate conformance with established industry guidelines and best practices promoted by the professional scholarly publishing organizations, including those outlined under Publisher Practices.
PMC's scientific and editorial quality evaluation is a rigorous, multi-step process (see How to Include a Journal in PMC for step-by-step details) in which many factors are assessed. NLM views each journal comprehensively, rather than basing a decision on a defined list of criteria. Each title is reviewed by multiple individuals, both inside and outside of NLM, and final decisions are based on input from all these sources. To maintain the quality of the archive, NLM performs ongoing review of current PMC journals for conformance with these standards.
For an overview of the PMC pre-application requirements as well as a step-by-step breakdown of the PMC application and review process, please see How to Include a Journal in PMC.