SAN FRANCISCO – Publication misrepresentation is a well-recognized phenomenon throughout the scientific and academic communities at all levels, but has dramatically increased in residency applicants, according to a speaker here.
Heather M. Kistka, MD, of Vanderbilt University, conducted a retrospective review of applications for a neurosurgery residency noting the most recent study data studying this phenomenon was from 2003 and because her institution noticed a “dramatic” increase in the number of publications applicants were noting.
The goal of the study was to identify whether these increasing number of publications were due in part to inflated reporting of the applicants’ achievements; to identify “red flags” that could trigger a more in-depth review of a CV; and to identify a method to provide the most accurate representation of an applicant’s body of work.
Kistka and colleagues looked at misrepresentation of academic works among 191 neurosurgery residency applications from 2012 that used the Electronic Residency Application Service and compared it to the misrepresentation associated with 148 applications for residency positions at her institution in 2006 that used the traditional CV format applications.
“The total number of applicants with publications dramatically increased from 47% to 97% of all applicants, as did the number of peer review works reported; there is almost a four-fold increase. Unfortunately, along with this the total number of applicants and percentage of applicants was also significantly increased, as were the total number of misrepresentations,” Kistka said. “This was quite alarming,” she said.
Only publications reported as accepted or in press were verified and this was done using PubMed, Google Scholar or by contacting the journal directly, Kistka said. Also, she said publications were scored as misrepresented if the publication cited did not exist, if the applicant reported his or her name in the incorrect order, or if the publication was incorrectly listed a peer review journal when it was, in fact, not. Demographic data were collected, including medical school, advanced degree and USMLE Step 1 score, she noted.
Kistka said applicants from the top 10 medical schools and those with more than 10 works identified were more likely to have misrepresentation, she said.
“We believe that these results are in direct violation of this code of conduct [AANS Code of Conduct] and something needs to be done about it,” Kistka said.
She and her colleagues believe there is an educational gap about correct reporting of academic achievement and the neurosurgery community needs to close this gap to maintain the integrity of the field of neurosurgery. Kistka said her institution began educational sessions for all medical students who rotate through neurosurgery. – by Joan-Marie Stiglich, ELS and Susan M. Rapp
Kistka HM. Paper #701. Presented at: American Association of Neurological Surgeons Annual Meeting; April 5-9, 2014; San Francisco.
Disclosure: Kistka has no relevant financial disclosures.