Misrepresentation of research citations among medical school faculty applicants

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Abstract

PURPOSE: A descriptive study of bibliographic misrepresentations by applicants to medical school faculty positions. METHOD: The authors reviewed 250 1995 faculty applicant bibliographies from eight medical institutions, representing six medical specialities. Using computerized library database searches or direct retrieval, they evaluated the legitimacy of each journal, abstract, and book citation. The authors classified and tabulated the following discrepancies as misrepresentations: (1) citing a nonexistent article in an existent source, (2) claiming authorship on an article that did not list the applicant as an author, and (3) altering authorship order to enhance the applicant's position. RESULTS: The authors found 56 misrepresented citations among 2,149 verified articles (2.6%). These misrepresentations were distributed among 39 applicants (15.6%; 95% CI, 11.5% to 20.9%); 11 of whom (4.4%) had multiple discrepancies. Sixty-eight percent of all misrepresentations were due to discrepancies in authorship order, while journal citations constituted the most frequent source of misrepresentation (77%). CONCLUSIONS: Misrepresentation of bibliographic citations does exist among medical school faculty applicants. One possible solution to this problem would be to require applicants to document their bibliographic citations.

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