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Letter to the Editor

Reply to How Should Research Productivity Be Assessed in Early Career Psychiatric Researchers? Research Funding Versus Scientific Productivity

Joseph F. Goldberg, MD

Published: September 15, 2009

See the original letter

Dr Goldberg Replies

To the Editor: Dr de Leon rightly points out the utility of the h-index as a metric for quantifying one’s scientific productivity and the breadth of one’s contributions to the medical literature. To the extent that scholarship and innovative research are, or should be, the stock-in-trade of academia, the value of such a measure is obvious. Of course, if the majority of one’s spare time is spent writing grants to procure funding, little time may be left over to write the papers upon which an h-index is based.

The problem afflicting both academic psychiatrists and the institutions for which they work concerns the tension between scholarly pursuits and the procurement of economic support for scientific endeavors. Dr de Leon suggests that universities and medical centers are motivated by greed, but one might alternatively consider that medical schools and early career psychiatrists (ECPs) are in the same boat, both struggling for economic viability. The overarching question before the academic leadership community would seem to be, how far should ECPs and junior faculty reasonably be expected to redirect their efforts and attention away from scientific or educational pursuits in order to help shoulder the economic burden faced by medical centers and their universities? And to what extent are medical schools, foundations, and even the National Institutes of Health (NIH) sacrificing a next generation of academic psychiatrists by making careers in education and research untenable? Consider the plight of the ECP whose NIH grant submission goes from scored to unscored on resubmission. Or the faculty member who must scramble every 3 to 5 years to find new sources of funding in order to keep his or her job. Or the clinical investigator who leaves academia altogether in hopes of greener pastures elsewhere.

Perhaps it is a useful trial by fire to ask ECPs and junior faculty to help foot the institutional bill at a time when they themselves are still consolidating their own professional identities and are unsure if they can (and want to) earn a living within academia. Maybe this is just a dose of reality in today’s world. But it hardly seems like a persuasive way to attract the best and brightest toward a career path upon which everyone’s future ultimately depends.

Joseph F. Goldberg, MD

Author affiliations: Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York. Financial disclosure: Dr Goldberg has been a consultant for Eli Lilly and Cephalon and has received honoraria from and served on the speakers/advisory boards of Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, and AstraZeneca. Funding/support: None reported.


© Copyright 2009 Physicians Postgraduate Press, Inc.

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