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Importance of publishing research varies by doctors’ career stage, specialty and location of work
  1. Matthew Richard McGrail1,
  2. Belinda G O'Sullivan2,
  3. Hollie R Bendotti1,
  4. Srinivas Kondalsamy-Chennakesavan3
  1. 1 Rural Clinical School, University of Queensland, Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia
  2. 2 School of Rural Health, Monash University, Bendigo, Victoria, Australia
  3. 3 Rural Clinical School, University of Queensland, Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Matthew Richard McGrail, Rural Clinical School, University of Queensland, Rockhampton 4700, Queensland, Australia; m.mcgrail{at}


Purpose To investigate whether publishing research is an important aspect of medical careers, and how it varies by specialty and rural or metropolitan location.

Methods Annual national panel survey (postal or online) of Australian doctors between 2008 and 2016, with aggregated participants including 11 263 junior doctors not enrolled in a specialty (‘pre-registrars’), 9745 junior doctors enrolled as specialist trainees, non-general practitioner (GP) (‘registrars’) and 35 983 qualified as specialist consultants, non-GP (‘consultants’). Main outcome was in agreement that ‘research publications are important to progress my training’ (junior doctors) or ‘research publications are important to my career’ (consultants).

Results Overall, the highest proportion agreeing were registrars (65%) and pre-registrars (60%), compared with consultants (36%). After accounting for key covariates, rural location was significantly associated with lower importance of publishing research for pre-registrars (OR 0.69, 95% CI 0.61 to 0.78) and consultants (OR 0.69, 95% CI 0.63 to 0.76), but not for registrars. Compared with anaesthetics, research importance was significantly higher for pre-registrars pursuing surgery (OR 4.46, 95% CI 3.57 to 5.57) and obstetrics/gynaecology careers, for registrars enrolled in surgery (OR 2.97, 95% CI 2.34 to 3.75) and internal medicine training, and consultants of internal medicine (OR 1.84, 95% CI 1.63 to 2.08), pathology, radiology and paediatrics.

Conclusions This study provides new quantitative evidence showing that the importance of publishing research is related to medical career stages, and is most important to junior doctors seeking and undertaking different specialty training options. Embedding research requirements more evenly into specialty college selection criteria may stimulate uptake of research. Expansion of rural training pathways should consider capacity building to support increased access to research opportunities in these locations.

  • specialty college
  • postgraduate training
  • rural health
  • medical careers
  • research activity

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  • Contributors MM and HB conceived the study and reviewed the literature. MM led the study design and conducted all data analyses. BO and SKC substantially contributed to the study design and data interpretation. All authors substantially contributed to the drafting process and approval of the final version of this manuscript.

  • Funding This work is part of the MABEL longitudinal study of Australian doctors. MABEL is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (Health Services Research Grant 2007–2011 and Centre for Research Excellence in Medical Workforce Dynamics: 2012–2016), with additional funding from the Commonwealth Department of Health (2008) and Health Workforce Australia (2013).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval MABEL was approved by the University of Melbourne Faculty of Business and Economics Human Ethics Advisory Group (Ref. 0709559) and the Monash University Standing Committee on Ethics in Research Involving Humans (Ref. CF07/1102 – 2007000291).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement Data will be made available upon reasonable request.