Purpose. To review in a systematic manner the published curricula for training house officers in research. Method. Articles were identified by searching the Medline, Educational Resources Information Center, and Science Citation Index databases, educational Web sites, and bibliographies of captured articles, and by contacting experts who had developed resident research curricula. Demographic information, curriculum development steps, educational strategies, evaluation methods, and outcomes were abstracted. Results. The search identified 41 articles describing curricula. The most common curricular objectives were to increase house officers' research productivity and improve their critical appraisal skills. Only one curriculum was designed with the goal of producing academic physicians. Among many instructional methods, conducting research projects, exposing learners to role models or mentors, and providing house officers with multiple opportunities to present their work were common. Only 27 articles (66%) articulated goals or objectives, and 11 included (27%) needs assessments. Evaluation methods were often rudimentary, frequently limited to learners' self-assessments or authors' anecdotal reports. Five (12%) reported pre-post-intervention testing of learners' knowledge. No curricula were evaluated as prospective pretest - posttest controlled trials. A minority of articles reported costs, obstacles encountered, or modifications made in the curriculum. Conclusion. Successful educational interventions should incorporate needs assessments, clearly defined learning objectives, and evaluation methods. While many curricula for resident research exist, the lack of detailed developmental information and meaningful evaluations hinders educators interested in adopting these curricula.
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