Describing the Landscape of Medical Education Preprints on MedRxiv: Current Trends and Future Recommendations

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Academic medicine : journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges




PURPOSE: A preprint is a version of a research manuscript posted to a preprint server prior to peer review. Preprints enable authors to quickly and openly share research, afford opportunities for expedient feedback, and enable immediate listing of research on grant and promotion applications. In medical education, most journals welcome preprints, which suggests preprints play a role in the field's discourse. Yet, little is known about medical education preprints, including author characteristics, preprint use, and ultimate publication status. This study provides an overview of preprints in medical education to better understand their role in the field's discourse. METHOD: The authors queried medRxiv, a preprint repository, to identify preprints categorized as "medical education" and downloaded related metadata. CrossRef was queried to gather information on preprints later published in journals. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics. RESULTS: Between 2019 and 2022, 204 preprints were classified in medRxiv as "medical education," with most deposited in 2021 (n = 76, 37.3%). On average, preprint full-texts were downloaded 1,875.2 times, and all were promoted on social media. Preprints were authored, on average, by 5.9 authors. Corresponding authors were based in 41 countries, with 45.6% in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada. Almost half (n = 101, 49.5%) became published articles in predominantly peer-reviewed journals. Preprints appeared in 65 peer-reviewed journals, with BMC Medical Education (n = 9, 8.9%) most represented. CONCLUSIONS: Medical education research is being deposited as preprints, which are promoted, heavily accessed, and subsequently published in peer-reviewed journals, including medical education journals. Considering the benefits of preprints and the slowness of medical education publishing, it is likely that preprint depositing will increase and preprints will be integrated into the field's discourse. The authors propose next steps to facilitate responsible and effective creation and use of preprints.


Health, Human Function, and Rehabilitation Sciences