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Citation classics in general medical journals: Assessing the quality of evidence. A systematic review.

Suhaib JS. Ahmad, Ahmed R. Ahmed, Karl Friedrich Kowalewski, Felix Nickel, Kamran Rostami, Claire J Stocker, Sherif M Hakky, Rami Archid, Douglas McWhinnie, Ata Mohajer-Bastami, Dionysis Skiadopoulos Seimenis, Sami Ahmad, Sami Mansour, Mohamed H. Ahmed, Dushyant Mital, Aristomenis K. Exadaktylos




This review provides a comprehensive overview of more than 100 of the most cited studies in general medical journals and evaluates whether citations predict the quality of a scientific article.


The number of citations is commonly used as a measure of the quality and impact of a scientific article.  However, it is often criticised that the number of citations is in fact a poor indicator of the true quality, as it can be influenced by different factors such as current trends.  

Materials and methods:

This review was conducted in line with the PRISMA guidelines.  The Journal Citation Report (JCR) within Incites allowed the evaluation and comparison of articles, published in general medical journals, using far-reaching citation data drawn from scholarly and technical journals and conference proceedings.  All steps of the review were done in duplicate and conflicts were resolved by consensus. 


The 100 most cited articles published from 1963 until the end of 2018 were identified. The number of citations ranged from 4012 to 31853.  Most of the articles were published in the 2000’s, followed by the 1990’s, 1980’s, 1970’s and 1960’s, respectively.  All of the articles were published in one of five journals.There were 50 studies at level II, 28 at level V, 10 at level IV, 7 at level III and 5 at Level I.


This systematic review provides an overview of the most cited articles, published in general medical journals.  The number of citation provides an indication of the quality of evidence.  However, researchers and clinicians should use standardized assessment tools rather than solely rely on the number of citations in order to judge the quality of published articles.


Most-Cited Articles, Bibliometrics, Level of Evidence, citation classics, General Medical Journals, Article Quality


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.22037/ghfbb.v13i2.1774