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Table of Contents
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 70  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 195-196

Medical research and publication: Concerns and way forward

1 Department of Anatomy, Kasturba Medical College, Mangalore, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Anatomy, Kamineni Academy of Medical Sciences and Research Centre, Hyderabad, Telangana, India
3 Department of Paediatric and Preventive Dentistry, Santosh Dental College and Hospital, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, India

Date of Submission03-Dec-2021
Date of Acceptance03-Dec-2021
Date of Web Publication21-Dec-2021

Correspondence Address:
Prof. Vishram Singh
OC 5/103, 1st Floor, Orange County Society, AhinsaKhand I, Indirapuram, Delhi NCR, Ghaziabad - 201 014, Uttar Pradesh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jasi.jasi_199_21

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How to cite this article:
Singh V, Reddy KC, Singh R. Medical research and publication: Concerns and way forward. J Anat Soc India 2021;70:195-6

How to cite this URL:
Singh V, Reddy KC, Singh R. Medical research and publication: Concerns and way forward. J Anat Soc India [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 Jul 3];70:195-6. Available from: https://www.jasi.org.in/text.asp?2021/70/4/195/333188

Research and development is the cornerstone of any field in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Research in the field of medicine has done wonders, hence it is not only fascinating but transcending as well. An example of this can be attributed to the rapid development of the COVID-19 vaccine. The young medical graduates mostly strive towards becoming good “clinicians” but some of them want to be part of a bigger field of “research” in medicine. Research is a field of its own niche and has to be pursued with full and utmost dedication for it to result in something meaningful. Nowadays, biomedical research has been made an essential prerequisite for making curricula but most of the medical colleges do not prioritize medical research[1] believing that it may affect teaching and patient care.

In India, currently, there are no mandatory guidelines from any of the regulatory agencies governing health sciences for mandatory research training of undergraduates or to promote and facilitate some other mode of scholarly activity. Only the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) encourages undergraduates in medicine for research by providing monetary help to do ICMR short-term summer projects.[2]

In our opinion, undergraduate medical students should be exposed to common medical and surgical problems (early clinical exposure) instead of involving them in active research early in the 1st year MBBS as they are already overburdened with an extensive syllabus.

New PostGraduate medical education draft regulations dictate the publication/submission of a research article in scientific journals or the presentation of the paper at the national conference of the concerned society, training in research methodology (basic course in biomedical research), medical ethics, and medico-legal aspects mandatory[3] which may be highly appreciable since the inception of these at this stage will sow a foundation for the same. Postgraduate thesis or dissertation should not be just an eligibility criteria for appearing in the summative examination, but it should also be given some weightage in either internal or summative assessment.

There should be a larger emphasis on faculty development rather than just mandatory publications for regular promotions toward a change of cadre. Although mandatory publications have been thought out for a positive outcome, it has resulted in quite contradictory outcomes by way of a larger section of research being redundant and repetitive. Further, there is huge rise in predatory journals by several commercial enterprises to take an advantage.[4] As a result, quality has taken a backseat in this rush to publish.[5]

To pile on to the difficult problem of writing and publishing research articles some colleges and NMC inspectors expect these to be published, in a subject-specific journal which also should be considered. The premise of publishing an article in a subject-specific journal is redundant when we are proceeding towards furthering the concept of interdisciplinary research. Articles published in a journal whose scope aligns with the objectives of the said article, should be considered valid for the promotion. NMC and publication committees of medical colleges should take note of this. The articles published in e-journals with a valid indexation should also be considered as valid since most of the journals are shifting to an e-platform lately. The problem of “research waste” is not indigenous to our setup but other countries as well.[6] A few suggestions to relieve the anxiety and streamline the process of publishing a research article:

  • Mandatory research should not be the only criteria for promotion of faculty rather a scholarship activity-based (innovative teaching-learning methods, administrative duties, extracurricular activities and giving opinions in various committees) should be implemented.[2],[7] This is in view of the hard fact that most of the new medical institutions do not have even the basic research facilities, say in the form sufficient number of bones, cadavers and properly functioning laboratories essential for biomedical research. Further, there is acute shortage of faculty, not only that, the faculty strength is palpably disproportionate to the number of teaching hours in anatomy, physiology and biochemistry. We are amazed how this goes on unnoticed till date by NMC inspectors and National Assessment and Accreditation Council members
  • As a number of medical colleges are being established and subsequent increase in student number, faculty strength has to increase and teacher-student ratio (at least 1:10) should be maintained for medical education to be more proactive and to decrease the burden and stress on faculty
  • Publication of a research article should be assisted by an in-house expert who should be a part of the central research facility of the medical college to write and articulate a research paper in terms of language, grammar, and interpretation. This will especially be helpful since we are non-native English speakers and such hand-holding in the initial stages of career will boost and encourage faculty to move forward in the right direction
  • Medical education i.e., the ability to teach and evaluate students should not suffer nor a clinician's ability to attend and treat patients should not be impeded on account of compulsion to publish
  • Electives as part of undergraduate medical education are a step forward in the right direction.[8]Research paper writing” may be included as part of block 1 electives, which will be beneficial to students. Assessment of the same may be done by way of writing a review article. This will enable students to develop an attitude toward research
  • Faculty who have the inbuilt aptitude for teaching may write monographs on the anatomical basis of clinical problems or publish research papers on new teaching methodologies.

To publish or perish attitude favors low quality and incomplete research. The primary focus of conducting medical research should ideally be to improve the quality of health care.[9] Medical research and its publishing should be more than just a minimum requirement and a process has to be in place for it to become a culture among the faculty.

  References Top

ESHRE Capri Workshop Group. Protect us from poor-quality medical research. Hum Reprod 2018;33:770-6.  Back to cited text no. 1
Ananthakrishnan N. Perception and assessment of scholarship in health science institutions in India – Gap between the existing and the desirable. J Basic Clin Appl Health Sci 2019;2:32-8.  Back to cited text no. 2
Curricula of Postgraduate Medical Students. Available from: https://www.nmc.org.in/information-desk/for-colleges/pg-curricula-2/. [last accessed on 01 December 2021].  Back to cited text no. 3
de La Blanchardière A, Barde F, Peiffer-Smadja N, Maisonneuve H. Predatory journals: A real threat for medical research. 1. Identify these journals and understand how they work. Rev Med Interne 2021;42:421-6.  Back to cited text no. 4
Indrayan A. Improving the quality of medical research. Ann Natl Acad Med Sci 2020;56:6-8.  Back to cited text no. 5
Bradley SH, DeVito NJ, Lloyd KE, Richards GC, Rombey T, Wayant C, et al. Reducing bias and improving transparency in medical research: A critical overview of the problems, progress and suggested next steps. J R Soc Med 2020;113:433-43.  Back to cited text no. 6
Ananthakrishnan N. Appraisal of scholarly activities of medical faculty for career advancement and recognition: A suggested scheme in the Indian context. J Basic Clin Appl Health Sci 2019;2:119-21.  Back to cited text no. 7
Electives for an Undergraduate Medical Student. Available from: https://www.nmc.org.in/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Electives-Module-20-05-2020.pdf. [last accessed on 01 December 2021].  Back to cited text no. 8
Kapoor A. Quality medical research and publications in India: Time to introspect. Int J Appl Basic Med Res 2019;9:67-8.  Back to cited text no. 9


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