What Helps Radiation Oncologist Residents Publish More Academic Research?

January 11, 2013

What helps radiation oncologist residents publish more academic research?

Giving them more time to do it, physicians in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital conclude in a study published recently in the Journal of American College of Radiology.

Based on results from a web-based survey completed by 97 radiation oncologists and current senior residents from academic medical centers across the country, the biggest factor contributing to more first-author publications for residents is the amount of designated research time given during residency.

Anecdotally, there seems to be much variability in the productivity of radiation oncology residents. Some publish numerous articles, whereas others produce less. However, what leads to this variability remains undefined.

It appears that previous individual accomplishments or values among residents—often thought of as critical factors—seem to play less of a role than time and structure of a program.

To determine the predictors, researchers from Jefferson and Drexel University College of Medicine, invited 232 radiation oncologists and senior residents to partake in the web-based survey.

The survey addressed demographic factors, previous academic accomplishments, and residency program structure. The end point—research productivity—was defined as the number of first-author papers produced or research grants awarded on the basis of work initiated during residency.

There was a 42 percent response rate, most of whom were women. The median number of publications produced on the basis of work during residency was three. The average amount of dedicated research time was six months. 16 percent had less than three months. The more time a resident had, the more papers they published.

The results imply that academic success is not simply the result of innate ability but rather the structural aspects of residency programs.

“Medical research by residents is an important part of training, contributes to the academic growth of the radiation oncology field, and ideally makes them better physicians,” said Robert B. Den, M.D., Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology at Jefferson and author of the paper.  “The structure of a program highly influences resident research capability,” he added.

Other authors on the paper includes Jordan M. Gutovich of Drexel University, Maria Werner-Wasik, M.D., Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology at Jefferson, Adam P. Dicker, M.D., Ph.D., Chair of Radiation Oncology at Jefferson, and Yaacov Richard Lawrence, MRCP, an adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Jefferson University and director of the Center for Translational Research in Radiation Oncology at Sheba Medical Center in Israel.

The full study can be found here: http://www.jacr.org/article/S1546-1440%2812%2900386-9/abstract