PURPOSE - To assess the extent and types of publication misrepresentation among medical students applying to the urology residency program at the University of Washington. Research experience and publications are the selection criteria used to judge and rank urology residency applicants.
METHODS - Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) applications submitted for the incoming class of 2011 for urology residency at the University of Washington were reviewed. All listed publications were verified against PubMed and Google search engines. Misrepresentation was defined as non-authorship of an existing article, authorship claimed of a nonexistent article, or first-authorship listed incorrectly.
RESULTS - Of the 198 total applications, 124 (63 %) applicants reported 541 publications, including 112 abstracts and 429 journal articles. 347 (65 %) articles and abstracts were verifiable. Misrepresentation of 12 (3.5 %) published articles was found in 9 applicants (7 %), which included self-promotion to first-authorship (6), followed by non-existent articles (5), and a repeated publication listing (1). On univariate analysis, higher age (p = 0.008), higher number of total publications reported (p < 0.001), additional graduate degree (p < 0.001), and foreign medical graduate (FMG) status (p < 0.001) were associated with misrepresentation. Due to the low incidence, the study was not adequately powered to perform a multivariate analysis.
CONCLUSIONS - Misrepresentation of publications listed in ERAS among urology applicants remains significant. Residency program directors should require applicants to submit copies of all of their publications, whether in print, in-press, or submitted to be placed as part of their application file.