Saturday, 2 February 2013

Young Chinese doctors under pressure to publish

by Heng-Feng Yuan, Wei-Dong Xu,  Hai-Yan Hu, Second Military Medical University, Shanghai
In recent medical job fairs, most large hospitals in China have considered articles listed in the Science Citation Index (SCI) as a must or priority for candidates. SCI articles are also the key to a large bonus or rapid promotion. It seems that SCI articles are controlling the fate of young doctors in China, whose goal is to be a research superpower by 2020.
As young doctors, we feel under great pressure to publish. However, basic scientific research is difficult, being almost outside the scope of our profession, and clinical research requires long-term follow-up or large case numbers, which are not easy to achieve for a young doctor. In our graduate careers, many of our classmates spent a large amount of time in the laboratory doing unfamiliar experiments, just so that they could publish SCI articles. Even in the hospital, SCI articles are still an important indicator of success for a department or doctor. Is this really more important than clinical competence?
Such a requirement is unreasonable and completely unnecessary. Not only does the pressure to publish take up too much energy and time, with little professional help, it can also lead to an inappropriate medical atmosphere. Young doctors should be paying more attention to the accumulation of medical experience and improving their communication skills with patients. Academic articles are welcome, but they should be mainly for the purposes of communication, and should be non-mandatory and derived from clinical practice. Moreover, articles should not be distinguished simply by whether or not they are cited by SCI.
Young Chinese doctors are encountering more and more challenges. China's health-system reforms should remove the SCI article burden, and build up a healthy assessment mechanism for these doctors.
Source: Lancet

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