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The Top-Cited Articles in Medical Education: A Bibliometric Analysis

Azer, Samy A. MD, PhD, MEd, MPH

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000780
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Purpose: To identify and examine the characteristics of the 50 top-cited articles in medical education.

Method: Two searches were conducted in the Web of Knowledge database in March 2014: a search of medical education journals in the category “Education, Scientific Discipline” (List A) and a keyword search across all journals (List B). Articles identified were reviewed for citation count, country of origin, article type, journal, authors, and publication year.

Results: Both lists included 56 articles, not 50, because articles with the same absolute number of citations shared the same rank. The majority of List A articles were published in Academic Medicine (34; 60.7%) and Medical Education (16; 28.6%). In List B, 27 articles (48.2%) were published in medical education journals, 19 (33.9%) in general medicine and surgery journals, and 10 (17.9%) in higher education and educational psychology journals. Twenty-six articles were included in both lists, with different rankings. Reviews and articles constituted the majority of articles; there were only 8 research papers in List A and 13 in List B. Articles mainly originated from the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. The majority were published from 1979 to 2007. There was no correlation between year and citation count.

Conclusions: The finding that over half of List B articles were published in nonmedical education journals is consistent with medical education’s integrated nature and subspecialty breadth. Twenty of these articles were among their respective non-medical-education journals’ 50 top-cited papers, showing that medical education articles can compete with subject-based articles.

S.A. Azer is professor of medical education and chair, Curriculum Development and Research Unit, Medical Education Department, College of Medicine, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Funding/Support: This work was funded by the College of Medicine Research Center, Deanship of Scientific Research, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Other disclosures: None reported.

Ethical approval: Reported as not applicable.

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Correspondence should be addressed to Samy A. Azer, Curriculum Development and Research Unit, Medical Education Department, College of Medicine, King Saud University, PO Box 2925, Riyadh 11461, Saudi Arabia; telephone: (966) 11-4699178; e-mail:

© 2015 by the Association of American Medical Colleges