Update on Misrepresentation of Research Publications Among Orthopaedic Surgery Residency Applicants

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BACKGROUND: Our 2 previous studies (1999, 2007) examining misrepresentation of research publications among orthopaedic residency applicants revealed rates of misrepresentation of 18.0% and 20.6%, respectively. As the residency selection process has become more competitive, the number of applicants who list publications has increased. The purpose of this study was to determine current rates of research misrepresentation by orthopaedic surgery applicants. METHODS: We reviewed the publication listings and research section of the Common Application Form from the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) for all applicants applying to 1 orthopaedic residency program. The PubMed-MEDLINE database was principally used to search for citations. The PubMed Identifier (PMID) number was used; if no PMID number was listed, a combination of authors or the title of the work was used. If the citations were not found through PubMed, a previously developed algorithm was followed to determine misrepresentation. Misrepresentation was defined as (1) nonauthorship of a published article in which authorship was claimed, (2) claimed authorship of a nonexistent article, or (3) self-promotion to a higher authorship status within a published article. RESULTS: Five hundred and seventy-three applicants applied to our institution for residency in 2016 to 2017: 250 (43.6%) of 573 applicants did not list a publication, whereas 323 (56.4%) of 573 applicants listed ≥1 publication. We found 13 cases of misrepresentation among a total of 1,100 citations (1.18% in 2017 versus 18.0% in 1999 and 20.6% in 2007, p < 0.001). Ten cases of misrepresentation were self-promotion to a higher authorship status. There were 2 cases of claimed authorship of an article that could not be found. Only 1 applicant misrepresented more than once. CONCLUSIONS: Based on our findings, orthopaedic surgery residency applicants are accurately representing their publication information. The incorporation of the PMID number on the ERAS application has streamlined the process for finding publications, and has possibly encouraged veracity on residency applications. Faculty involved in the resident selection process should be aware of the significant decline in the rate of misrepresentation by medical students applying for orthopaedic surgery residency versus the rate in our prior studies.



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