Original Article

Scholarly Productivity of US Medical Schools Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Authors: Catherine Gray, BS, Jhojana L. Infante Linares, MS, Karlene Cunningham, PhD, Dmitry Tumin, PhD


Objectives: The coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic profoundly disrupted scientific research but was accompanied by a rapid increase in biomedical research focused on this new disease. We aimed to study how the academic productivity of US medical schools changed during the pandemic and what structural characteristics of medical schools were associated with trends in scholarly publication.

Methods: Annual totals of publications for each US Doctor of Medicine–granting medical school were extracted for 2019 to 2021 from the Scopus database, and schools were categorized a priori as experiencing a sustained increase in publications, a transient increase in publications, or no increase in publications. Bivariate tests compared school characteristics among these three groups.

Results: Of 139 Doctor of Medicine–granting medical schools, 79% experienced sustained growth in publications from 2019 to 2021, 6% experienced transient growth, and 14% experienced no growth. Sustained growth in publications was associated with being affiliated with a research-intensive university, larger faculty size, the presence of an Emergency Medicine residency, having higher baseline National Institutes of Health funding, and experiencing higher coronavirus disease 2019 infection rates in the local community during the early months of the pandemic. Among predominantly White institutions, a higher diversity of female faculty was associated with a higher likelihood of experiencing transient rather than sustained growth in publications.

Conclusions: Our results demonstrate that scientific output increased during the pandemic at most medical schools, despite significant barriers to research experienced by individual investigators. Further attention is needed to enhance equity in research opportunities, considering diverging trends in productivity between more- and less-advantaged schools, however.
Posted in: Infectious Disease133

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