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Scope of the DIOC Publication Archive

The DIOC Publication Archive is intended as a comprehensive listing of papers about informatics and information technology in dentistry. As such, it serves as an authoritative resource for individuals looking for information on these topics, freeing them from the need to search much larger bodies of materials, such as PubMed.

Informatics and IT in dentistry are topics that often cannot be clearly delineated from other, related fields. The objective of the Publication Archive is to provide access to the main body of that literature while also including papers that could be of possible interest to DIOC members and visitors. In determining which papers should be included in the Publication Archive, the DIOC is following these guidelines:

  1. Dental informatics (DI) is the application of computer and information science to improve dental practice, research, education, and management (definition of the Medical Subject Heading). It is a scientific field concerned with
    • model formulation;
    • system design and development;
    • system implementation; and
    • evaluation.
  2. DI is a subfield of biomedical informatics.
  3. DI overlaps with but is distinct from information technology (information technology = implementation, application, and support of computer technology and telecommunications).
  4. Papers on fundamental or universally applicable methods are within the scope of DI only if they proceed from a dental research problem that resulted in development of the new method.

Numbers 2-4 above adapted from: A preliminary analysis of the dental informatics literature. Titus K. Schleyer — titus schleyer (102 star_green), Patricia Corby — pc (4 star_blue), and Amy L. Gregg. Advances in Dental Research 2003; 17(1):20-4. PMID: 15126201

  1. Common topics in DI include (My DIOC Your Interests checklist)
    • digital imaging/image processing
      • Exception! A paper reporting the clinical application of a new or existing mode of imaging to dentistry is not within the scope of DI if it simply reports on the mode's application to a non-informatics research question, such as the use of digital radiographs to study the epidemiology of caries. Reporting on an imaging method is in the scope of DI if it addresses research questions such as development or testing of computer-aided diagnosis, a comparative evaluation of different imaging methods, a new algorithm or simulation, or other computing-related innovation.
    • clinical decision support
    • educational technology
    • bioinformatics
    • practice management
    • computer-based patient records
    • patients and computers/consumer health informatics
    • implementation/maintenance of IT
    • evidence-based dentistry/electronic information resources
    • research methods
    • library information sciences
      • Includes information literacy and dental consumer health
    • diagnostic and therapeutic technologies
  2. Other included topics
    • education
      • application of information technology to dental education or training
      • use of the Internet in dental education or training
      • information topics in dental education or training
    • clinical topics in dental medicine with an informatics component
    • basic, laboratory, and experimental science in dental medicine with an informatics component
  3. Excluded topics
    • animal studies
    • clinical topics outside dental medicine with or without an informatics component
    • basic, laboratory, and experimental science outside dental medicine with or without an informatics component
    • general dental education or training topics

Our search and retrieval strategy from PubMed is designed to retrieve only papers that comply with the guidelines listed above. However, no automated retrieval method is perfect, and therefore papers retrieved or suggested for the Publication Archive are reviewed manually. When you suggest papers for the DIOC Publication Archive, please keep these guidelines in mind. If you have any comments or suggestions regarding the guidelines, or would like to help us maintain the Publication Archive, please contact heiko spallek (89 star_green).


titus schleyer (102 ), 03/17/2010:
Hi Greg,

Thanks for your message! We proposed the definition that the NLM uses in a paper from a while ago (Dental informatics: a cornerstone for dental practice. Titus Schleyer and Heiko Spallek. Journal of the American Dental Association 2001;132(5):605-13. – see http://bit.ly/czhdn8). The definition, in turn, was derived from one proposed in 1992.

In “Digital dentistry in the computer age” (Journal of the American Dental Association 1999;130(12):1713-20, http://bit.ly/cKgwdZ), I explained that dental informatics draws on many disciplines, such as computer science, information science and cognitive science, to solve problems in dental practice, research and education. In general, the analogous view is held for biomedical informatics. Thus, DI is not really a subfield of IS, it just uses methods from there.

The papers “Dental informatics: an emerging biomedical informatics discipline” (http://www.jdentaled.org/cgi/reprint/67/11/1193) and “Dental informatics: a work in progress” (http://adr.sagepub.com/cgi/reprint/17/1/9) provide additional views on the emerging discipline of dental informatics.

I appreciate the fact that you are looking towards the definition of medical informatics for how we can improve the one for dental informatics. Unfortunately, the view of what medical informatics (or biomedical informatics) is or is not is in reality not as clear cut as the MeSH definition would have you believe. The AMIA Website alone lists eight possible definitions (https://www.amia.org/inside/faq/whatis.asp), and I think there are at least as many more in the literature.

So, I think there are several valid ways of viewing what dental informatics is, and we are surely not at the end of the discussion. My philosophy is, to some degree: Let the rest of the world, specifically medicine, figure out what informatics is, and then let’s just adapt their definition. Given the level and intensity of the discussions, I think it will be a while before we have settled on a relatively final one.


gregory zeller (7 ), 03/14/2010:
Thanks, Heiko. I greatly appreciate and I applaud your effort and the effort of all involved in the DOIC.

I would suggest that the Medical Subject Heading would be more correct within the overall NLM classification system if this were restated as "Dental informatics (DI) is the application of information science focused on the use of health information technologies, particularly computers and communications, to improve dental practice, research, education, and management." (Rather than the current, "Dental informatics (DI) is the application of computer and information science to improve dental practice, research, education, and management.")

This would, I think, more correctly state the fact that DI is a subset of information science (IS) rather than make IS a subset of DI. This restatement for DI would also make DI more consistent with the NLM scope for Medical Informatics, which is, "The field of information science concerned with the analysis and dissemination of medical data through the application of computers to various aspects of health care and medicine."

Do you and the other members of DOIC think this is a good thing to pursue? If so, do you know how I can petition the NLM for this modification?

Thanks again.


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