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Do Applicants to Internal Medicine Residency Programs Misrepresent Publications? FREE

[+] Article and Author Information

The summary below is from the full report titled “Minimal Prevalence of Authorship Misrepresentation among Internal Medicine Residency Applicants: Do Previous Estimates of ‘Misrepresentation’ Represent Insufficient Case Finding?” It is in the 4 March 2003 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine (volume 138, pages 390-392). The authors are RS Hebert, CG Smith, and SM Wright.


Ann Intern Med. 2003;138(5):I-60. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-138-5-200303040-00004
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What is the problem and what is known about it so far?

Doctors of internal medicine (internists) focus on adult medicine. Internists have attended medical school for 4 years and continued training as medical residents for 3 years. To train as internal medicine residents in the United States, medical students must apply to 1 of more than 120 certified programs. The program directors look at many factors when they choose residents. One factor is authorship of scientific articles. Since competition for the resident positions can be fierce, some people think that medical students may be tempted to misrepresent publications on their applications in order to compete for the best positions. How often this occurs is unclear.

Why did the researchers do this particular study?

To see whether medical students who apply for internal medicine residency positions misrepresent authorship of published articles.

Who was studied?

497 medical students who were invited to interview for internal medicine residency positions in two competitive university-based programs in the northeastern United States.

How was the study done?

The researchers examined the applications of students who were asked to interview for a 2002–2003 internal medicine residency position. They checked publications that were reported on the applications by using several methods. First, they searched a large electronic database of articles that are published in medical journals (MEDLINE). If they did not find the reported article in MEDLINE, they searched other databases and looked for the article in journals that were in the medical library. If they still could not find the article, they searched additional specialized databases and contacted editors of journals and reported coauthors of the articles.

What did the researchers find?

45% of the applicants who were interviewed reported authorship of at least one article. In total, 634 published articles were reported. All but 4 of the articles were confirmed. One applicant reported an article in a foreign journal that was not located, another applicant reported authorship of a nonexistent article, and two applicants reported authorship of an article of which they were not authors.

What were the limitations of the study?

The study only involved applicants who were asked to interview for residency positions at two competitive northeastern university programs.

What are the implications of the study?

Misrepresenting authorship is probably uncommon among medical students who interview for internal medicine residency positions.

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