The advent of new medical education (ME) journals makes evident the growth of the field of ME. However, the nature and context of growth is undefined.
To analyze the evolution of publication in ME.
MEDLINE retrieval using medical subject headings was used to analyze patterns of ME publications from 1960-2010: changes in number of ME publications; number of journals publishing ME articles; co-topics occurring frequently in ME articles; differences among journals' publication of co-topics.
Annual publication of ME articles increased from 279 in 1960 to 3760 in 2010. 81,531 articles were published in 4208 different journals. 104 journals published ME articles in 1960, 855 in 2010. Despite an increase in journals in all fields, ME journals now account for a larger proportion of all journals indexed in MEDLINE than in 1960. One-quarter of all ME articles were indexed as internship/residency; 16% as graduate ME; 15% as undergraduate ME; and 14% as continuing ME. The five journals that published the most ME articles distinguished themselves by publishing some topics with greater or less frequency.
The increase in the number of ME publications and in the number of journals publishing ME articles suggests a supportive environment for a growing field; but variation in journals' foci has implications for readers, editors and authors.