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The Capital Region of Denmark - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital

Low immediate scientific yield of the PhD among medical doctors

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BACKGROUND: We studied the scientific yield of the medical PhD program at all Danish Universities.

METHODS: We undertook a retrospective observational study. Three PhD schools in Denmark were included in order to evaluate the postdoctoral research production over more than 18 years through individual publications accessed by PubMed.

RESULTS: A total of 2686 PhD-graduates (1995-2013) with a medical background were included according to registries from all PhD schools in Denmark. They had a median age of 35 years (interquartile range (IQR), 32-38) and 53 % were women at the time of graduation. Scientific activity over time was assessed independently of author-rank and inactivity was measured relative to the date of graduation. Factors associated with inactivity were identified using multivariable logistic regression. 88.6 % of the PhD theses were conducted in internal medicine vs. 11.4 % in surgery. During follow-up (median 6.9 years, IQR 3.0-11.7), PubMed data searches identified that 87 (3.4 %) of the PhD graduates had no publication after they graduated from the PhD program, 40 % had 5 or less, and 90 % had 30 or less. The median number of publications per year after PhD graduation was 1.12 (IQR 0.61-1.99) papers per year. About 2/3 of the graduates became inactive after 1 year and approximately 21 % of the graduates remained active during the whole follow-up. Female gender was associated with inactivity: adjusted odds ratio 1.59 (95 % confidence interval 1.24-2.05).

CONCLUSIONS: The scientific production of Danish medic PhD-graduates was mainly produced around the time of PhD-graduation. After obtaining the PhD-degree the scientific production declines suggesting that scientific advance fails and resources are not harnessed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBMC Medical Education
Pages (from-to)189
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jul 2016

    Research areas

  • Journal Article

ID: 49803451