Academic journal article Journal of the Medical Library Association

Journal Reading Patterns and Preferences of Pediatricians**

Academic journal article Journal of the Medical Library Association

Journal Reading Patterns and Preferences of Pediatricians**

Article excerpt

Purpose: To describe the journal reading patterns of pediatrician members of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and compare results to similar surveys of medical faculty and physicians. The research also explored factors that might influence changes in reading patterns in the future, such as adoption of PDA technology.

Methodology: A random sample of 2,000 AAP members was drawn from the AAP membership list, with paper surveys distributed in mid-2004.

Settings/Subjects: Six hundred sixty-six pediatrician AAP members participated in a survey of reading behavior, with a total of 1,351 members answering some questions about technology use.

Results: The hypotheses that pediatricians read many journal articles each month, read each article on average quite quickly, read heavily from personal subscriptions, read from both print and electronic journals, and read for many purposes were all supported. Pediatricians read journal articles primarily for current awareness and most often rely on quick reading from print journals for current awareness. Reading for research, writing, and presentations are more likely from library-provided electronic journals.

Discussion/Conclusion: Convenience and purpose of reading are key factors that explain reading patterns of pediatricians. Print personal subscriptions are convenient for current awareness reading, while electronic journals systems are convenient for reading for research because they provide access to a broader range of journals. Publishers and librarians must understand the purposes and patterns of reading to design appropriate journals and services. Pediatricians read many current articles very quickly and from many different locations. Pediatricians under the age of thirty-five are more likely to use PDAs, suggesting that articles delivered to a handheld device might be accepted as convenient in the future.


Journal reading studies over the years consistently show that physicians' journal reading behavior is different from that of other subject experts. Physicians tend to read more articles on average but spend less time per reading than do professionals in other disciplines such as engineering, astronomy, and other sciences and social sciences. Physicians also read from far more print journals (in particular, personal subscriptions) and read more frequently for current awareness than do other professionals [1]. Although physicians read many articles from personal print subscriptions, they nonetheless do use electronic journals, especially those provided by medical or university libraries.

Like other physicians, pediatricians face increasing pressures to read more, keep up with more topics and more literature, and make the best use of their time. Peer-reviewed journals and journal articles that are delivered and designed in ways that best serve these busy readers help physicians make more productive use of their limited time. In 2004 the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), with Carol Tenopir and Donald W. King, conducted a survey of pediatrician members of AAP. The AAP is a professional organization of approximately 60,000 pediatricians, primarily in North America. Almost all members are working physicians from a variety of practice settings including universities, hospitals, clinics, and private practice. The results of this survey will help medical publishers design better journal delivery methods and provide medical librarians with insights into the reading patterns and preferences of their constituents in order to better serve their needs.

The researchers hypothesized that reading patterns of pediatricians would closely mirror those of other physicians in earlier studies and would continue to differ from those of scientists. Changes due to adoption of information technology and wider availability of electronic journals should have an impact on reading patterns and preferences, however. This paper presents results from the 2004 survey that address reading patterns in print and electronic sources and the purpose and value of reading by pediatricians. …

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