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Sources Used in Creating and Maintaining the MeSH Vocabulary

Sources consulted are changed as newer substitutes become available.

Staff in the Medical Subject Headings Unit periodically revise and update the MeSH vocabulary. Subject specialists are responsible for areas of the health sciences and related fields in which they have knowledge and expertise. In addition to receiving suggestions from indexers and others, staff collect new concepts and subjects as they appear in the scientific literature or in emerging areas of research; define these terms within the context of existing vocabulary; and recommend their addition to MeSH. Professional societies are also consulted regarding broad organizational changes and close coordination is maintained with various specialized vocabularies.

For example, recent editions of Bergey’s Manual of Systematic Bacteriology, Virus Taxonomy: Classification and Nomenclature of Viruses; and the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses Virus Taxonomy are consulted for the latest definitive organization in these two areas. Current editions of classic textbooks such as Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine or Robbins Pathological Basis of Disease represent a type of reference source frequently consulted.

As more information is published online, the range of formats used in verifying MeSH definitions for currency and completeness is expanding. Online manuals of drugs and other chemicals as well as full text journals are now also relied upon in creating and maintaining the ever-expanding Medical Subject Headings vocabulary. A bibliography of commonly used sources is listed below by MeSH category:

MeSH Authoritative Reference Sources

  • Group A. ANATOMY
    • Standring, S. Gray’s Anatomy: The anatomical basis of clinical practice. 41st ed. 2016.
  • Group B. ORGANISMS
    • Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS): https://www.itis.gov
    • International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV): The International Code of Virus Classification and Nomenclature: https://talk.ictvonline.org/
    • Virus Taxonomy: Classification and Nomenclature of Viruses : ninth report of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. International Union of Microbiological Societies. Virology Division. Amsterdam: Elsevier/Academic Press, 2012.
    • International Plant Names Index (IPNI): https://www.ipni.org/
    • Catalogue of Life: https://www.catalogueoflife.org/
    • List of Prokaryotic Names with Standing in Nomenclature (LPSN): https://www.bacterio.net/
    • USDA, NRCS. 2016. The PLANTS Database: https://plants.usda.gov National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC
    • New Edition of the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants: https://www.ishs.org/
  • Group C. DISEASES
  • GROUP D. Chemicals and Drugs
  • GROUP E. Analytical, Diagnostic and Therapeutic Techniques, and Equipment.
    • McGraw Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms. 7th ed. New York: McGraw Hill. February 2016. ISBN-13: 978-0071608992. ISBN-10: 0071608990
    • Keller, A, Eckart M., Nucleic Acids as Molecular Diagnostics. Weinheim, Germany: Wiley-VCH, 2015.
    • Coppol, D. Molecular Pathology and Diagnostics of Cancer. Dordrecht: Springer, 2014.
    • O'Connor, L [and others]. Fungal Diagnostics: Methods and Protocols. New York: Springer, 2013.
    • Bilitewski, U. Microchip Methods in Diagnostics. New York: Humana Press, 2009.
    • Popp, J. [and others]. Modern Techniques for Pathogen Detection. Weinheim, Germany: Wiley Blackwell, 2015.
    • Slevin M, McDowell G. Handbook of Vascular Biology Techniques. Dordrecht: Springer, 2015.
  • GROUP F. Psychiatry and Psychology
    • American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th ed, Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association, 2013.
    • Thapar, A. ed. Rutter's Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 6th ed. Ames, Iowa : Wiley, 2015.
    • Sadock, J. [and others]. Kaplan & Sadock's Synopsis of Psychiatry : Behavioral Sciences/Clinical Psychiatry. 11 ed., Philadelphia : Wolters Kluwer, 2015.
    • Dulcan, M. Dulcan's Textbook of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. American Psychiatric Association. 2nd ed. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association, 2016.
  • GROUP G. Phenomena and Processes References
    • Alberts, B. [and others]. Molecular Biology of the Cell. 6th ed, Taylor & Francis Group, 2014.
    • Smoller, WS. Biostatistics and Epidemiology: a Primer for Health Professionals. 3rd ed. New York: Springer Verlag, 2015.
    • Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary. 33rd ed. Philadelphia: Saunders, 2020.
  • GROUP I. Anthropology, Education, Sociology and Social Phenomena References
    • Barnard A, J Spencer. Routledge Encyclopedia of Social and Cultural Anthropology. 2nd ed: London; New York: Routledge. 2010.
  • GROUP J. Technology, Food, and Beverages References
    • Buglass, J. Handbook of Alcoholic Beverages: Technical, Analytical and Nutritional Aspects. Wiley & Sons. 2011.
    • Igoe, RS [and others]. Dictionary of Food Ingredients. 5th ed. Maryland: Aspen  s, 2011.
    • West G. Black’s Veterinary Dictionary. 18th ed.  London: Black. 1992.
    • Plumb, DC Plumb’s Veterinary Drug Handbook. 8th ed. Blackwell Publishing. 2015.
  • GROUP K. Humanities References
    • Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy. 2nd ed. Robert Audi. Ed. Cambridge. 1999.
  • GROUP L. Information Science References
    • Art and Architecture Thesaurus.  Vols I, II, and III. Oxford University Press. NY. 1990. 
  • GROUP N. Healthcare References
    • Healthcare changes and the Affordable Care Act: a physician call to action. Powers, James S., Cham: Springer, [2014]
    • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: data and statistics: https://www.cdc.gov/DataStatistics/
  • GROUP Z. Geographical Locations References

Last Reviewed: September 14, 2021