Association of pre-residency publications with research productivity in residency, fellowship, and academic career choice among Canadian ophthalmologists

Can J Ophthalmol. 2024 Mar 8:S0008-4182(24)00037-1. doi: 10.1016/j.jcjo.2024.02.004. Online ahead of print.


Objective: This study aimed to assess whether the research output of medical students who matched into a Canadian ophthalmology residency program influences their subsequent research productivity during residency, decision to pursue a fellowship, or engagement in academic practice.

Design: Retrospective database review.

Participants: A total of 369 trainees commencing ophthalmology residency from 2004 to 2015 at 15 residency programs.

Methods: Each trainee's publication record was queried in Scopus before and after the date they started residency. Multiple public sources were searched to identify fellowship placement and the type of subsequent practice (i.e., academic or community). Predictors of research productivity during residency, fellowship, and practice setting were assessed using multivariable regression analyses.

Results: Trainees with pre-residency publications (n = 187) demonstrated significantly higher research productivity during residency than those without pre-residency publications (n = 182), with a mean of 5.17 ± 5.97 versus 1.60 ± 2.38 publications on any topic (p < 0.001). Pre-residency research output was a predictor of research productivity during residency (relative risk = 1.17; 95% CI, 1.09-1.27; p < 0.001), pursuing fellowship (odds ratio, 2.9; 95% CI, 1.74-4.83), and an academic career (odds ratio = 1.85; 95% CI, 1.07-3.2).

Conclusion: Pre-residency research output is a significant predictor of research productivity during residency and subsequent career choices, suggesting that pre-residency publishing reflects a propensity toward an academic trajectory. Residency publication count moderates this association, underscoring the role of the residency program environment in fostering research productivity. Addressing barriers such as mentorship, funding, and curriculum may be key to incentivizing trainees to pursue academic medicine.