Research topics and trends in medical education by social network analysis

Cited 15 time in Web of Science Cited 14 time in Scopus
Issue Date
BMC Medical Education, 18(1):222
Research topicsMedical educationMedical educationSocial network analysisComplex systems theory
As studies analyzing the networks and relational structures of research topics in academic fields emerge, studies that apply methods of network and relationship analysis, such as social network analysis (SNA), are drawing more attention. The purpose of this study is to explore the interaction of medical education subjects in the framework of complex systems theory using SNA and to analyze the trends in medical education.

The authors extracted keywords using Medical Subject Headings terms from 9,379 research articles (162,866 keywords) published in 1963–2015 in PubMed. They generated an occurrence frequency matrix, calculated relatedness using Weighted Jaccard Similarity, and analyzed and visualized the networks with Gephi software.

Newly emerging topics by period units were identified as historical trends, and 20 global-level topic clusters were obtained through network analysis. A time-series analysis led to the definition of five historical periods: the waking phase (1963–1975), the birth phase (1976–1990), the growth phase (1991–1996), the maturity phase (1997–2005), and the expansion phase (2006–2015).

The study analyzed the trends in medical education research using SNA and analyzed their meaning using complex systems theory. During the 53-year period studied, medical education research has been subdivided and has expanded, improved, and changed along with shifts in societys needs. By analyzing the trends in medical education using the conceptual framework of complex systems theory, the research team determined that medical education is forming a sense of the voluntary order within the field of medicine by interacting with social studies, philosophy, etc., and establishing legitimacy and originality.
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