Does the Organization of Plastic Surgery Units into Independent Departments Affect Academic Productivity?

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There is an increased push for plastic surgery units in the United States to become independent departments administered autonomously rather than as divisions of a multispecialty surgery department. The purpose of this research was to determine whether there are any quantifiable differences in the academic performance of departments versus divisions.


Using a list of the plastic surgery units affiliated with the American Council of Academic Plastic Surgeons, unit Web sites were queried for departmental status and to obtain a list of affiliated faculty. Academic productivity was then quantified using the SCOPUS database. National Institutes of Health funding was determined through the Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools database.


Plastic surgery departments were comparable to divisions in academic productivity, evidenced by a similar number of publications per faculty (38.9 versus 38.7; p = 0.94), number of citations per faculty (692 versus 761; p = 0.64), H-indices (9.9 versus 9.9; p = 0.99), and National Institutes of Health grants (3.25 versus 2.84; p = 0.80), including RO1 grants (1.33 versus 0.84; p = 0.53). There was a trend for departments to have a more equitable male-to-female ratio (2.8 versus 4.1; p = 0.06), and departments trained a greater number of integrated plastic surgery residents (9.0 versus 5.28; p = 0.03).


This study demonstrates that the academic performance of independent plastic surgery departments is generally similar to divisions, but with nuanced distinctions.

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