The Validity Concept in Medical Education: a Bibliometric Analysis

O Conceito de Validade na Educação Médica: uma Análise Bibliométrica

Ruy Guilherme Silveira de Souza Bianca Jorge Sequeira Antonio Carlos Sansevero Martins Angélica Maria Bicudo About the authors



Assessment is a critical part of learning and validity is arguably its most important aspect. However, different views and beliefs led to a fragmented conception of the validity meaning, with an excessive focus on psychometric methods and scores, neglecting the consequences and utility of the test. The last decades witnessed the creation of a significant number of tests to assess different aspects of the medical profession formation, but researchers frequently limit their conclusions to the consistency of their measurements, without any further analysis on the educational and social impacts of the test. The objective of this work is to determine the predominant concept of validity in medical education assessment studies.


The authors conducted a bibliometric research of the literature about studies on the assessment of learning of medical students, to determine the prevalent concept of validity. The research covered a period from January 2001 to august 2019. The studies were classified in two categories based on their approach to validity: (1)” fragmented validity concept” and (2)” unified validity concept”. To help with validity arguments, the studies were also classified based on Miller’s framework for clinical assessment.


From an initial search resulting in 2823 studies, 716 studies were selected based on the eligibility criteria, and from the selected list, of which 693 (96,7%) were considered studies of the fragmented validity concept, which prioritized score results over an analysis of the test's utility, and only 23 studies (3,2%) were aligned with a unified view of validity, showing an explicit analysis of the consequences and utility of the test. Although the last decade witnessed a significant increase in the number of assessment studies, this increase was not followed by a significant change in the validity concept.


This bibliometric analysis demonstrated that assessment studies in medical education still have a fragmented concept of validity, restricted to psychometric methods and scores. The vast majority of studies are not committed to the analysis about the utility and educational impact of an assessment policy. This restrictive view can lead to the waste of valuable time and resources related to assessment methods without significant educational consequences.

Validity; Medical Education; Assessment

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