Scientific activity by medical students: the relationship between academic publishing during medical school and publication careers after graduation

Belinda W. C. Ommering
Cathelijn J. F. Waaijer
Friedo W. Dekker
Lambertus J. van der Wurff
NVMO Special Interest Group on Scientific Education
Thed N. van Leeuwen
Soort article
Original Research
Medical students,
Research in medical education,
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Introduction Engagement of clinicians in research is important for the integration of science and clinical practice. However, at this moment, there is a shortage of clinician-scientists. Success experiences can stimulate student interest in a research career. Conducting actual research leading to publication is a potential method to gain success experience. This study assessed whether publication as a medical student is associated with publication after graduation. We determined whether medical students in the Netherlands who are involved in research, as measured by publication in international journals before graduation: 1) are more likely to publish, 2) publish a greater number of papers, and 3) have higher citation impact scores after graduation.

Methods We matched 2005–2008 MD graduates (with rare names, n = 4145 in total) from all eight Dutch university medical centres to their publications indexed in the Web of Science and published between 6 years before and 6 years after graduation. For sensitivity analysis we performed both automatic assignment on the whole group and manual assignment on a 10% random sample.

Results Students who had published before graduation: 1) were 1.9 times as likely to publish, 2) published more papers, and 3) had a slightly higher citation impact after graduation.

Discussion Medical students who conducted research leading to a publication before graduation were more likely to be scientifically active after graduation. While this is not a causal relationship per se, these results cautiously suggest that successful early involvement in research could influence the long-term scientific activity of clinicians.


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