Objective. To analyze quantitative aspects and the relative quality of various pediatric discussion groups on the Internet and to contrast them with qualitative aspects of a selected number of pediatric journals.
Material and Methods. An extensive number of mailing lists on the Internet of interest to pediatricians was compiled. Twelve of them concerned with pediatric specialties were selected. Six representative journals of pediatric specialties were also analyzed and compared with the corresponding mailing lists. From the list of subscribers we studied the potential quality of each mailing list. The postings sent by each member to the on-line discussions were also analyzed. As an estimate of the standing as author of each list member as well as of each first author of the selected journals, we calculated several indexes of quality using the 1995 Medline database and the impact factors of the biomedical journals reported by the 1994 Science Citation Index.
Results. The most popular lists were NICU-NET and PICU, both having more than 1100 subscribers. PEDPATH and PEDIHEART had the highest percentage of subscribers who were published authors, and their papers also yielded the highest impact factors. The most active lists were NICU-NET and PICU. The most participative ones were CHILD-NEURO and PED-LUNG. CHILD-NEURO had the highest percentage of authors among the participants. PEDPATH and CHILD-NEURO had the authors with the highest impact factors among the people who participated in the discussions. These latter two lists also showed the highest impact factor per posting. Those which had the highest yield (highest activity with highest quality per posting) were CHILD-NEURO and PEDIHEART. The average impact factor per first author of the analyzed journals was always higher than the average impact factor per participant of the lists.
Conclusions. The electronic-mail discussion groups on the Internet are new nonacademic forums in which knowledge and experience in pediatrics can be shared. They cannot replace but they complement other more academic sources such as medical journals.
- Received August 12, 1996.
- Accepted March 3, 1997.
- Copyright © 1997 American Academy of Pediatrics