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Health services research has emerged as the third vital requirement for understanding and improving health care, alongside basic science and clinical research. This has coincided with more stringent management of research, in particular by funding bodies. The latter are seeking to use bibliographic databases to aid the monitoring of the output of their investments. The principal source of data in the UK is the Research Outputs Database (ROD) set up by the Wellcome Trust primarily to monitor basic and clinical research. Health services researchers' output is difficult to monitor in view of the large number and wide variety of journals in which they publish. In addition, nearly half the journals (representing 35% of the articles) are not currently covered by the ROD. Funding bodies will underestimate the quantity of health services researchers' output unless they take these findings into account.