, Volume 54, Issue 2, pp 179-192

From biomedical research to health improvement

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Traditional means of analysis of research outputs have focussed on citations to papers in journals in other journal publications. But these only chronicle the early stages whereby research in biomedicine is converted into health improvement through better patient care and through preventive measures. New evaluation methods, still based on the concept of citation of research in other documents, are needed and are now being developed. These include the use of textbooks in medical education and the analysis of governmental regulations and health policies, which can influence both the availability of new drugs and the control of toxic substances in food and the environment. There is also an interest in the way that newspapers report biomedical research advances. Readers include politicians, healthcare professionals, the general public (who are increasingly becoming active consumers of healthcare products) and other researchers who may value the immediacy of the reporting. Newspaper articles tend to focus on fashionable topics and to offer premature hopes of cures to disease, but they can also provide a valuable service in showing the importance of animal experiments to biomedical progress. It would be useful to create an international database of newspaper citations through a consortium of partners in different countries who would agree a common protocol and exchange information on a regular basis.

This revised version was published online in June 2006 with corrections to the Cover Date.