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An Analysis Of Publication Trajectory Of Plastic Surgery Journal Editors, Board Directors, And Program Directors Certified Between 1980-2010
Elijah M. Persad-Paisley, BA, Victoria G. Zeyl, BA, Carole S.L. Spake, MSc, Joseph W. Crozier, MA, Loree K. Kalliainen, MD., Mimi R. Borrelli, MBBS, MSc
Division of Plastic Surgery, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI, USA.

PURPOSE: In plastic surgery, research output has been associated with a greater propensity to match with program directors placing an increasing emphasis on research involvement and output. Publication pressure is not unique to early-career trainees. Board-certified plastic surgeons aiming to achieve higher status in the field may also feel pressure. The publication trajectory for plastic surgeons has changed tremendously over the last 40 years, with many performing research at earlier stages in their careers. Despite an increasing demand for research output, there is little known about the research productivity of plastic surgeons in prominent leadership roles throughout their careers. The purpose of this study is to quantify the research output of plastic surgeons in different academic positions over time.
METHODS: The number of publications and academic positions of plastic surgeons board-certified between 1980-2010 were collected. Lists of current program directors, past and current board members, and journal editors were obtained from the ACGME, the ABPS, and plastic surgery journal websites. Publication productivity was captured through PubMed searches of all board-certified plastic surgeons from 1980-2010. Surgeons with 10 or more publications from the start of medical school until the 30th year of their medical career were included. ANOVA was used to compare the mean number of publications, at year 30 across three decades (1980s, 1990s, 2000s). Post hoc analysis was used to further elucidate the cumulative differences in research output between decades at career year 30.
RESULTS: 796 plastic surgeons met the inclusion criteria; 264, 260, and 272 from the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, respectively. ANOVA testing revealed surgeons certified in the 2000s had significantly more publications than those certified in the 80s and 90s by their 30th career year (27.0 vs. 21.0 vs. 20.0; p<0.001), regardless of academic position. Upon post hoc analysis, board directors certified in the 2000s had more than double the median number of publications compared to those certified in the 1980s (2000s 134.0, 1980s 52.0; p=0.01) and triple those in the 1990s (2000s 134.0, 1990s 45.5; p=0.01). There were no significant differences in research output across the decades for surgeons holding other positions. Across decades, surgeons who are board directors or journal editors publish more than the average plastic surgeon. Serving as a program director does not appear to be associated with high research productivity (Figure 1).
CONCLUSIONS: This is the first study documenting the evolution of publication trends for plastic surgeons with various prestigious titles over the last 40 years and provides insight into the relationship between publishing and leadership positions. Over the last four decades, research output has exponentially increased leading to competition at every level. As a field, academic plastic surgery has become increasingly competitive not only for aspiring students but for board-certified surgeons.



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