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Clerkship Resources: Finding Landmark Articles

Keys to success in the clerkships and beyond.

Landmark Articles

What is a "landmark" article?

A landmark article is a paper that reports on an important clinical trial, often a trial with practice-changing implications. Landmark articles are typically widely read, circulated, and cited by others. 

How can I find landmark articles?

You can find landmark articles either by consulting a curated list or by running a targeted search.  Read on for more details on both these methods.

Curated Lists of Landmark Trials

Several sources attempt to curate lists of landmark trials.  These include:

  • The Classics in Medicine™: Summaries of the Landmark Trials - The Classics in Medicine™ list, created and maintained by the 2 Minute Medicine® website, aims to provide summaries of landmark trials across a variety of specialties, including general medicine, emergency medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, psychiatry, and surgery. FREE
  • 50 Studies Every Doctor Should Know - Covering trials in internal medicine, surgery, obstetrics and other specialties, 50 Studies identified landmark trials and provides a concise summary with an emphasis on the results and limitations of the study, and its implications for practice.
  • Wiki Journal Club - Wiki Journal Club (WJC) maintains lists of landmark trials in over two dozen specialties. WJC editors include medical students. residents, fellows, attending physicians, nurse practitioners and pharmacists. You can check out the full list of their editors and contributors and find information about becoming an editor. FREE
  • Journal Club App - The Journal Club App, available for Apple and Android devices, is the mobile app version of Wiki Journal Club.  It provides concise summaries consisting of a Bottom Line and Major Points section for each trial. Purchase Required

Citation Indexes (Web of Science and Scopus)

A citation index is a record of the citations between publications that allows users to see which papers have cited a given paper since its publication.  Citation indices allow you to sort your search results based on the number of times an article was cited, bringing the highly cited articles to the top of the results list, and display the number of times cited so you can see how many times the articles was cited on the search results page. This makes them make great tools for identifying high impact articles as well as high impact authors.

Web of Science search results page showing results sorted by times cited in descending order

Google Scholar

Google Scholar is another option for identifying high impact articles since it includes citations in its results ranking algorithm and provides a Cited By number for each search result. 

While citation count is one component of the Google Scholar results ranking algorithm, causing more highly cited papers to appear higher up on the list of results, Google Scholar does not allow users to sort search results to display the search results in order of times cited.  For this functionality as well as many other useful sort, filter and analyze results options, use a tradition citation index databases (i.e. Web of Science or Scopus).

Google Scholar search results page with citation counts highlighted in results

Exclamation Mark Tip Icon Use the Google Scholar link on the Levy Library Databases page. This will make it easier to connect to the full text of articles you want to read regardless of whether you're on or off campus.