digest: does publication predict performance?

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  • Does publication predictperformance?

    Cavalcanti RB, Detsky AS. Publishing

    history does not correlate with clinical

    performance among internal medicine

    residents. Med Educ 2010;44:468474.

    Most clinical teachers keep aneye on their students for futurerecruitment to their own clinicaldiscipline. An encouraging wordhere or a mild suggestion therecan have quite an influence onbudding careers, and we tend tothink were pretty good at spot-ting those with the right stuff tojoin us. Selection for vocationaltraining programmes, however, isa high-stakes enterprise, and itsprocesses need to be appropriate,reliable and transparent.

    One of the great challenges indesigning a selection process is tofind easily measurable criteriathat relate to the work to be

    done. It is clear that scholarlyability is a desirable attribute ininternal medicine specialists, butit is less clear how well thenumber and type of their pub-lished papers correlates with theirsuitability for the job. Cavalcantiand Detsky from Toronto exam-ined their own internal medicineunits practice of considering anapplicants publishing historywhen choosing trainees. Both thenumber of papers published andtheir scholarly impact areassessed in the selection process,along with the more clinicallyrelated attributes of eachcandidate.

    The authors compared theirtrainees publication record atthe time of application with theirsubsequent in-training clinicalassessments. In particular, they

    looked at the components ofin-training assessment that mostrelated to the medical expert (forclinical expertise) and scholar(for academic ability) roles.Senior staff members were alsoasked to rank the trainees retro-spectively based on globalimpression.

    The title of Cavalcanti andDetskys paper tells the wholestory. After analysing their data,they made a straightforwardstatement, There does not appearto be any consistent correlation,either positive or negative, be-tween publishing record andclinical performance. They doexpress some relief that thosetrainees with strong publishingrecords do not perform worseclinically than their unpublishedcolleagues.

    It is less clearhow well thenumber andtype of theirpublishedpaperscorrelates withtheir suitabilityfor the job


    Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2010. THE CLINICAL TEACHER 2010; 7: 215218 215


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