This study uses bibliometrics and social network analysis methods to investigate the characteristics of the most cited research papers in the Web of Science (WoS) database in virtual patient (VP) studies in interactive learning environments. We identify the most cited studies from the WoS database and then visualize and analyze the research data using bibliometric analysis and VOSviewer. The studies in the dataset were published in 294 different journals in 17 countries between 1989 and 2020. The highest-volume journal was found to be Medical Teacher, and the United States (US) was the country with the highest yield of published studies. The most frequent keywords were virtual patients, simulation, virtual reality, and medical education. The research results show that publishing articles in journals with high impact factors improves the quality of research. The trends in VP research further lay the foundation of bibliometrics for scholars and identify researchers, scientific journals, countries, hot topics, and relevant fields for VP literature. The most cited research uncovers new horizons in the field, providing research inspiration for investigators.
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