Job: Info about Becoming a MEDLINE Indexer

5.30.16 – Becoming an Indexer for MEDLINE

Sarah P’s comments:  I was recently contacted by a qualified Health Sciences librarian (with a biomedical degree as well as MLIS) who is searching for a virtual position because there are no local opps in her area.  I have a friend who worked for the NLM (USA) as an indexer and I also happen to be taking a course in Health Sciences myself.  This week’s homework included learning how to use PubMed so I also looked into how to become a virtual indexer for them.

While this is mainly a USA opportunity, it is important to note that “citizenship is not mandatory for contractors” and that “about 1% of MEDLINE indexing is performed by indexers at the International MEDLARS Centers in Sweden and Brazil”.

Here is some information from their Frequently Asked Questions Page:

Who are the indexers, and what are their qualifications?

Most MEDLINE indexers are either Federal employees or employees of firms that have contracts with NLM for biomedical indexing. A prospective indexer must have no less than a bachelor’s degree in a biomedical science. A reading knowledge of certain modern foreign languages is typically sought. An increasing number of recent recruits hold advanced degrees in biomedical sciences. Federal employees must be United States citizens, but citizenship is not mandatory for contractors.

Indexers are trained in principles of MEDLINE indexing, using the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) controlled vocabulary as part of individualized training. The initial part of the training is based on an online training module (partially available to the public at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/bsd/indexing/index.html), followed by a period of practice indexing. NLM does not accept other indexing training programs as a substitute.

About 1% of MEDLINE indexing is performed by indexers at the International MEDLARS Centers in Sweden and Brazil.


How can I become an indexer?

Indexing vacancies at the National Library of Medicine are filled competitively. Any such vacancy is listed on NLM’s Web site. Indexers generally are classified as Technical Information Specialists, in the GS-1412 job series. The normal career ladder goes from GS-9 to GS-12.

For information about applying for work as an indexer with NLM’s contractors, please contact the Index Section for a listing of all firms with a current indexing contract.


I’ve heard that I can do indexing work at home. How do I apply for this type of position?

Contract indexers work from their homes once their training has been completed. Indexers who are Federal employees may qualify to telework for two or three days each week under the NIH Telework Program. See the preceding paragraph for information on applying for either type of indexing position.


How can I apply for a job as an abstract writer for MEDLINE?

No original abstracts are created for MEDLINE. Author abstracts in English published in a journal are input for MEDLINE.


How can I apply for a job as a translator with the Index Section?

Although journals from many languages are represented in MEDLINE, the National Library of Medicine does not translate the articles. Indexers who perform subject analysis of the articles typically have a reading knowledge of scientific terminology in one or more foreign languages. They read and comprehend the articles, but they do not need to translate them in order to index them.

 

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