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December 8, 2004

Accessibility and Accuracy of Web Page References in 5 Major Medical Journals

Author Affiliations

Letters Section Editor: Robert M. Golub, MD, Senior Editor.

JAMA. 2004;292(22):2720-2726. doi:10.1001/jama.292.22.2723-c

To the Editor: Online access to information has changed the scope of medical research and data collection. Information formerly available only through many hours with Index Medicus and extensive correspondence is now easily obtained by most researchers. With this method of data collection becoming more widespread, Web site references are becoming more prevalent in leading medical journals.1 In 1984, prior to the proliferation of Internet references, de Lacey et al2 examined a random sample of citations from 6 medical journals and found an 8% major and a 24% overall error rate in citations referencing printed works. Twenty years later we investigated the accessibility and accuracy of Internet references for studies in 5 major medical journals 3 months after their publication.