Scholarly returns: Patterns of research in a medical archives

Nancy McCall, Lisa A. Mix

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


To learn more about researchers who utilize archival documentation from the health fields and the works that they produce, we conducted a study of patrons of the Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives of The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions from the inception of the programme in 1978 through 1994. User Population-- Records for both on-site and remote reference services show that fiftyfive per cent of the user population was affiliated with Johns Hopkins and that most of the individuals in the remaining forty-five per cent of the population had affiliations to similar institutions--health care delivery facilities and research universities. The overall user population included both students and professionals from a broad range of disciplines within the health sciences, humanities, and social sciences. Works Produced-Our focus was on works in print (theses, dissertations, articles, chapters, and books). We classified works according to four common topics of research: individuals and their influences; professions in the health, life, and biological sciences; institutions in the health fields; and key functions of institutions in the health fields. Guided by a list of 789 users who had indicated an intention to publish, we located citations to 260 publications. From this group we selected a sample of 136 citations for discussion. Significance of Findings-The bibliographic sample provides insight into common topics of research at a health sciences archives. We hope that elucidation of intellectual themes will serve as a useful resource for appraisal, processing, and reference services. Implications for the Future-That a preponderance of users had affiliations with not-for-profit institutions and published with not-for-profit presses raises compelling issues for the future of archival services. As the funding base for not-for-profit organizations is shrinking, there are fewer resources for travel, research, and academic publishing. To accommodate an audience with less time for research and fewer options for travel, archival programmes will be pressed to develop a wider range of services for remote access. Moreover, as electronic access to literature of the health sciences expands, there are enhanced expectations for electronic access to archival documentation. Archival programmes must, therefore, be poised to assume a more dynamic role in electronic communication. Whereas Internet access to archives will serve largely as a convenience for traditional users, it also promises to introduce archives to a wide new audience of users.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)158-187
Number of pages30
StatePublished - 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Library and Information Sciences


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