Exploring the Top-Cited and Most Influential Articles in Medical Education

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Abstract

Introduction:

The citations received by a scientific publication have been used as a proxy measurement of scientific quality and in ranking researchers. Although these practices have been observed in several institutes, careful assessment of top-cited articles may provide more insight into exploring their characteristics. The aim of this study was to analyze the top-cited articles in medical education identified by Azer 2015 and explore the characteristics of these articles that can provide insight into their assessment.

Methods:

The most frequently cited articles identified by searching the Web of Science under the category “Education, Scientific Discipline” were included in the analysis. The following issues were further analyzed: 1) comparing the mean yearly citations received by articles published before the year 2000 and those published after, 2) assessing whether there was a correlation between the number of grants, number of authors, number of institutes, or number of countries involved and the number of citations received, 3) assessing the number of female representation in authorship, 4) assessing the representation of none-medical staff in the authorship, and 5) exploring any association between top authors identified and those who were awarded the Karolinska Institutet Prize for research in medical education.

Results:

Although there was no correlation between the number of citations and the number of years since publications, the mean number of citations received by articles published before the year 2000 varied from zero to 18.2 ± 16.6, whereas for those published after the year 2000 the mean varied from 2.0 ± 2.1 to 35.3 ± 26.8. No correlation was found between the number of citations obtained and number of grants, number of authors, number of institutes, or number of countries involved. Females comprised 50% of the total number of authors. However, no correlation was found between the number of females in authorship and the number of citations obtained. Similarly, the number of authors with non-medical degrees did not correlate with the number of citations obtained. An association was found between authoring more than one article in the list and receiving the Karolinska Institutet Prize for research in medical education.

Discussion:

The analysis shows that the higher number of citations received are not necessarily related to funding, working collaboratively with a big team from several institutes or from several countries. The finding that authors of more than one top-cited article received the Karolinska Institutet Prize for research in medical education indicates that this could be a parameter in selecting the candidates for the award.

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