Study Finds Black Medical Students Publish Less Scholarly Research Than Their White Peers

In a new study, researchers at Yale University examined factors that can shape biomedical career paths — research experiences, publications, and funding rates — among medical students in the United States. They found disparities across race, ethnicity, and sex that may contribute to underrepresentation in the field.

The research team analyzed research experiences and the number and frequency of publications among medical school graduates who matriculated in the field during the academic years 2014 to 2015 and 2015 to 2016. The authors found that there were only slight differences between Whites and members of underrepresented groups in research experience. But Black students had 15 percent fewer publications than their White peers.

The differences in publication rates could be due to a number of factors, the authors said. But previous studies have shown that women and underrepresented students are less likely than their peers to work with productive mentors with large research networks. Research has also shown that mentors often provide less support to underrepresented mentees until they’ve achieved some academic success.

“There have been several studies showing that medical students who have positive research experiences, and especially if they have some type of publication, are significantly more likely to both pursue a career in academics and obtain federal NIH funding,” said senior author Dowin Boatright, who conducted the research while at Yale School of Medicine and is now the vice chair of research in the Department of Emergency Medicine at New York University Grossman School of Medicine.

Dr. Boatright earned his medical degree from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. He holds an MBA from Rice University in Houston and a master’s degree in health from Yale University.

The full study, “Variation in Research Experiences and Publications During Medical School by Sex and Race and Ethnicity,” was published on JAMA Open Network. It may be accessed here.

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