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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

History of MEDLINE and ERIC

Sharon A. Weiner, Tale of two databases: The history of federally funded information systems for education and medicine, Government Information Quarterly, July 2009. Only this abstract is OA, at least so far:
Access to scholarly information in the disciplines of education and medicine occurred primarily through the simultaneous development of two bibliographic databases. The Education Resource Information Center (ERIC) originated as a resource designed to be comprehensive in its inclusion of peer-reviewed and unpublished literature for the entire education community. MEDLINE began as a resource of selective materials for physicians and researchers. Today, ERIC includes selected peer-reviewed literature directed primarily to researchers and practitioners, although others use the database, while MEDLINE is a vast information system serving all health professionals and consumers. This literature analysis of their policy history shows important differences in their evolution. Application of the Multiple Streams Framework can help in formulating possible explanations for the different developmental paths. These paths include: the degree of centralization or decentralization of the information system's organizational structure; the stability of the organizational mission; and the success of assessment strategies, federal budgetary support, and bias toward science in federal policy-making. These two government-supported databases served as models for a plethora of other databases. However, one was successful in acquiring funding from the outset, while the other continually suffered deficiencies in support. The importance of each to public welfare should have been obvious, but was not.