Research Article

The correlates of research success.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987; 295 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.295.6592.241 (Published 25 July 1987) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987;295:241
  1. D C Evered,
  2. J Anderson,
  3. P Griggs,
  4. R Wakeford
  1. Ciba Foundation, London.

    Abstract

    A survey was carried out of the undergraduate backgrounds and research achievements of 885 (94.1%) of all 940 medically qualified professors and readers in medical faculties in the United Kingdom. A total of 217 (24.5%) of the graduates in these senior academic positions had graduated from Oxford or Cambridge and 137 (15.5%) had an intercalated BSc. The corresponding figures for a control group matched for sex and date of graduation were 118 (13.3%) for Oxford and Cambridge (academic to control odds ratio 2.11:1) and 34 (3.8%) for the BSc (odds ratio 4.58:1). Those with an intercalated BSc in the clinical specialties raised substantially more research grants from the Medical Research Council than their peers from Oxford and Cambridge or those without a BSc. The Oxford and Cambridge group raised more grants in the non-clinical specialties. Bibliometric analysis was carried out on the United Kingdom graduates within the broad specialty of medicine (n = 218) matched for date of graduation. Academics with a BSc had a better publication record over 10 years (median number of original publications 72) than the Oxford and Cambridge group (median 59) and a substantially better record than those from other schools without a BSc (median 46). Citation analysis was carried out on subsets of the above sample matched for date of graduation and frequency of publication. Those with an intercalated BSc were cited more often (8.04 citations/paper) than the Oxford and Cambridge graduates (7.63) and substantially more than their peers without a BSc (4.16). These data show very clearly that research training or experience, or both, as an undergraduate has a substantial influence on career development and correlates positively with subsequent research performance many years later.