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01-08-2017 | Review Article | Uitgave 4/2017 Open Access

Perspectives on Medical Education 4/2017

Scholarly concentration programs and medical student research productivity: a systematic review

Perspectives on Medical Education > Uitgave 4/2017
Annika G. Havnaer, Allison J. Chen, Paul B. Greenberg
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Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi: 10.​1007/​s40037-017-0328-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Presentations Presented as a poster at the 2016 New England Group on Educational Affairs Annual Retreat, the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, 8–9 April 2016, Providence, Rhode Island, USA.



Scholarly concentration programs have become a common method to promote student inquiry and independent research in medical schools. Given the high resource requirements of scholarly concentration program implementation, it is important to examine program efficacy. This systematic review examined the impact of scholarly concentration programs on student research productivity.


The authors carried out a literature search to find articles related to scholarly concentration program research productivity outcomes. The inclusion criterion was a method of rigorously evaluating program scholarly productivity. Study rigour was evaluated with the Medical Education Research Study Quality Instrument.


The initial search disclosed 2467 unique records: 78 were considered based on titles and abstracts; eight were considered by scanning references. Eleven papers met the inclusion criteria: all were descriptive; none had a priori hypotheses that examined predictors of medical student research productivity in scholarly concentration programs or prospectively evaluated program impact on student scholarly output.


While few in number and often lacking in rigour, the studies included herein suggest that adequate administrative support, strong mentorship and tailored program characteristics are essential in facilitating student research productivity in scholarly concentration programs. Given the challenges inherent in medical education research, a conceptual framework based on United Way’s approach may help program planners and educators address this gap in the evaluation of scholarly concentration programs.
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