Context Little is known about qualitative and quantitative characteristics of
indexed health sciences electronic journals (e-journals).
Methods To determine peer-review practices and qualitative and quantitative
characteristics of different types of indexed health sciences e-journals,
3 types of e-journals indexed in MEDLINE were compared (type 1, completely
electronic with no print counterpart; type 2, print and electronic versions
with the same title but each publishing some unique content; and type 3, print
and electronic versions containing equal content).
Results There were 13 type 1 journals, 16 type 2 journals, and 16 type 3 journals.
Most journals in each category (85%-94%) imply or state the use of peer review.
Significant differences (P<.05, analysis of variance)
exist among the e-journals for the inclusion of complex types of publications
(clinical trials, randomized controlled trials, meta-analyses, and practice
guidelines) (15%-100%), editorials (0%-75%), letters to the editor (10%-88%),
and case reports (17%-94%); the average number of items indexed in MEDLINE
(22.5-544.5); and the number of complex publication types, editorials, letters,
and case reports.
Conclusions Type 1 e-journals do not have the qualitative or quantitative complexity
of traditional print journals. Although editors' statements on editorial peer
review are similar, there are differences in number and type of materials
included in the 3 different types of e-journals.