Background: The purpose of this study was to investigate the correlation between quantitative measures of academic productivity and academic rank among full-time academic plastic surgeons. Methods: Bibliometric indices were computed for all full-time academic plastic surgeons in the United States. The primary study variable was academic rank. Bibliometric predictors included the Hirsch index, I-10 index, number of publications, number of citations, and highest number of citations for a single publication. Descriptive, bivariate, and correlation analyses were computed. Multiple comparisons testing was used to calculate adjusted associations for subgroups. For all analyses, a value of p < 0.05 was considered significant. Results: The cohort consisted of 607 plastic surgeons across 91 Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education-approved programs. Of them, 4.1 percent were instructors/lecturers, 43.7 percent were assistant professors, 22.1 percent were associate professors, 25.7 percent were professors, and 4.4 percent were endowed professors. Mean values were as follows: Hirsch index, 10.2 ± 9.0; I-10 index, 17.2 ± 10.2; total number of publications, 45.5 ± 69.4; total number of citations, 725.0 ± 1448.8; and highest number of citations for a single work, 117.8 ± 262.4. Correlation analyses revealed strong associations of the Hirsch index, I-10 index, number of publications, and number of citations with academic rank (rs = 0.62 to 0.64; p < 0.001). Conclusions: Academic rank in plastic surgery is strongly correlated with several quantitative metrics of research productivity. Although academic promotion is the result of success in multiple different areas, bibliometric measures may be useful adjuncts for assessment of research productivity.
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