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Cureus. 2020 Feb 7;12(2):e6911. doi: 10.7759/cureus.6911.

Low Misrepresentation Rates of Scholarly Work in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Residency Applications.

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Otolaryngology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, USA.
Otolaryngology, Indiana University School of Medicie, Indianapolis, USA.
Public Health, Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health, Indianapolis, USA.


Objectives To evaluate research trends, including rates of misrepresentation of scholarly work, in otolaryngology residency applications received by a single institution during the 2018-2019 residency application cycle. Methods After obtaining Institutional Review Board approval, all residency applications to the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN for the 2018-2019 cycle were de-identified and analyzed. Demographic and research information including the number of listed peer-reviewed articles/abstracts, types of research projects, and misrepresentations were retrospectively evaluated. Results Our institution received 321 applications, which represented 69.5% of the entire 2018-2019 otolaryngology applicant pool. The average United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 1 score was 246 ±12.4. There were 203 (62.2%) applicants who reported 591 published citations with 20 (6.2%) applicants misrepresenting 26 items (4.4%). Applicants who misrepresented research output had lower average Step 1 scores (237.4 vs 246.4, p: <0.05). Self-promotion to higher authorship status was the most common form of misrepresentation (61.5%). Conclusions The role of scholarly work in stratifying applicants continues to expand. Although a competitive application climate motivates a minority of applicants to misrepresent scholarly work, rates of misrepresentation in otolaryngology applications are low and continue to decline. The level of evidence assigned to this study is III.


electronic residency applications; misrepresentation; research

Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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