Background: Medical-surgical or adult health nursing is a complex specialty that requires a wide-ranging literature to inform its research and practice. Several excellent qualitative aids exist for collection development for this field, but quantitative studies are few. While one bibliometric study of journals exists, no recent work had been done in this area.
Method: The Mapping the Literature of Nursing Project protocol was used. Four source journals were selected, and a citation analysis of articles from 1996 to 1998 was conducted.
Results: A list of the most frequently cited journals was created, using Bradford’s Law of Scattering. The list demonstrates that 1.2% of the cited medical-surgical nursing journals produced just over 33% of the citations. PubMed/MEDLINE, CINAHL, and Science Citation Index provided the most complete indexing coverage of all of the journals, with CINAHL providing the most complete coverage of nursing journals. Books were the second-most cited format.
Conclusions: Citation analysis of journal articles is a useful aid for selecting journals for medical-surgical nursing collections, but it did not prove to be as useful for selecting materials in other formats. Indexes in addition to PubMed/MEDLINE are necessary to provide access to the journal literature serving this specialty.