Objective: To determine whether two applicants who misrepresented their accomplishments in applications for gastroenterology fellowships reflected isolated incidents or whether misrepresentation was more wide-spread.
Design: Retrospective review of all 236 applications submitted for fellowship in a recent year for confirmation of research experience and cited publications.
Results: 138 applicants (58.5%) reported research experience during residency in a U.S. training program. Research activity could not be confirmed for 47 of 138 applicants (34.1%). Fifty-three applicants (22.4%) reported published articles, and 16 of these applicants (30.2%) misrepresented articles. Misrepresentation included citations of nonexistent articles in actual journals, articles in nonexistent journals, or articles noted as "in press."
Conclusions: Misrepresentation on applications for gastroenterology fellowships was common. The following steps are recommended: 1) Fellowship programs should require that copies of all publications and letters of acceptance for manuscripts in press be submitted with fellowship applications; 2) applications should contain a statement to be signed by the applicant that the information provided is accurate; 3) persons writing letters of recommendation should verify the information being submitted by applicants; 4) medical students and residents should be taught that embellishment of curricula vitae constitutes misconduct; and 5) institutions and professional organizations should develop policies to deal with this problem.