The h-index in medical education: an analysis of medical education journal editorial boards

BMC Med Educ. 2014 Nov 28;14:251. doi: 10.1186/s12909-014-0251-8.


Background: Disciplines differ in their authorship and citation practices, thus discipline-specific h-index norms are desirable. Thus the goal of this study was to examine the relationship between the h-index and academic rank in the field of medical education, and the differences in the h-index between MD's and PhD's in this field.

Methods: Due to the absence of a formalized registry of medical educators, we sampled available editorial board membership (considered a proxy for identifying 'career' medical educators) to establish h-index values. These were determined using Web of Science (WoS) and Google Scholar (GS), and internet searching was used to determine their academic rank. The correlation between authors' h-indices derived from WoS and GS was also determined.

Results: 130 editors were identified (95 full professors, 21 associate professors, 14 assistant professors). A significant difference was noted between the h-indices of full professors and associate/assistant professors (p < .001). Median h-indices equaled 14 for full professors (Interquartile range [IQR] =11); 7 for associate professors (IQR =7) and 6.5 for assistant professors (IQR = 8). h-indices of MD's and PhD's did not differ significantly. Moderate correlation between GS and WOS h-indices was noted R = 0.46, p < .001.

Conclusions: The results provide some guidance as to the expected h-indices of a select group of medical educators. No differences appear to exist between assistant professor and associate professor ranks or between MD's and PhD's.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Academies and Institutes
  • Bibliometrics*
  • Canada
  • Editorial Policies
  • Education, Medical / organization & administration*
  • Faculty, Medical
  • Humans
  • Journal Impact Factor*
  • Male
  • Periodicals as Topic*
  • Physician's Role
  • Quality Control