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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 59  |  Issue : 12  |  Page : 794-800  

Current views and practice of faculty members and consultants regarding 'Publications in India': A cross-sectional study

1 Department of Anaesthesia, Karnataka Institute of Medical Sciences, Hubli, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, Karnataka Institute of Medical Sciences, Hubli, Karnataka, India
3 Department of Radiodiagnosis, Karnataka Institute of Medical Sciences, Hubli, Karnataka, India

Date of Web Publication11-Dec-2015

Correspondence Address:
Madhuri S Kurdi
Department of Anaesthesia, Karnataka Institute of Medical Sciences, Hubli, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0019-5049.171567

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Background and Aims: There is an increasing enthusiasm and pressure to submit scientific articles to journals for publication due to official policies. This has led to increased stress on authors and editors and in issues like plagiarism. We planned a cross-sectional study with an aim to explore the current publication related views and practice of faculty members and consultants. Methods: We conducted a questionnaire based prospective survey with 22 questions divided into parts. Print and electronic versions were sent to around 18,270 members in total, a majority of whom were anaesthesiologists and 600 members responded to our questionnaire. A database was created and analysed using Microsoft Excel. Results: About 80% felt that online journals were better read than print journals. Eighty eight percent agreed that publications improve academic skills. The Medical Council of India requirements to publish in reputed journals were cited as the main reasons for plagiarism. The publication rule had become a burden for 46% respondents. Review articles were most likely to be read though clinical investigations were considered to be of maximum academic significance. Review/publishing time followed by author requirements and journal indexing were the points our respondents liked to see most when choosing a journal for article submission. Conclusion: Our survey results depict the current author related views and trends in publication practice which may guide in evidence-based policy making.

Keywords: Attitude, journal article, publications, questionnaires

How to cite this article:
Kurdi MS, Ramaswamy AH, Lokare L, Sutagatti JG. Current views and practice of faculty members and consultants regarding 'Publications in India': A cross-sectional study. Indian J Anaesth 2015;59:794-800

How to cite this URL:
Kurdi MS, Ramaswamy AH, Lokare L, Sutagatti JG. Current views and practice of faculty members and consultants regarding 'Publications in India': A cross-sectional study. Indian J Anaesth [serial online] 2015 [cited 2021 May 12];59:794-800. Available from: https://www.ijaweb.org/text.asp?2015/59/12/794/171567

   Introduction Top

The Medical Council of India (MCI) requires publications as a desirable qualification for promotions among faculty members. [1] This has led to a desperate 'publication race'. [2] An author's quest for publication usually ends with a letter from the editor stating 'I am pleased to inform you that your manuscript is acceptable for publication'. [3] This quest involves many hurdles, many of which may cause stress to authors and editorial teams. A healthy attitude toward publications and an improvement in publication related policies is the need of the hour. With this background in mind, we conducted a nationwide cross-sectional study among faculty members and consultants, predominantly anaesthesiologists, with an aim to explore their views, attitude and practice related to various issues on 'publications'.

   Methods Top

An anonymous questionnaire study was carried out from November 2014 to January 2015. We designed the questionnaire which consisted of 22 carefully selected questions divided into four parts [Table 1]. The questions were based on demographics, respondents' publication background, publication related views and practice.
Table 1: The survey questionnaire

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We conducted a pilot study in our department using the same questionnaire with a target size of 20. Several shortcomings in the questionnaire were revealed, and necessary changes were incorporated into the final questionnaire. Based on the pilot study and considering the publishing burden as 57.2%, the proportion worked out to be 588 at 95% confidence intervals and an absolute precision of 4%. The sample size was thus estimated. The questionnaire was designed in printed and electronic versions. With permission from our Institutional Ethical Committee, the printed questionnaire was distributed during an anaesthesia state conference and in the departments of some medical colleges in our state to around 270 faculty members and consultants. The E-version was designed by kwiksurveys.com, a free to use online survey, builder. We also sent E-mail requests to participate in this survey addressed to 18,000 faculty members and consultants by name. A survey link was provided for completing the survey. An example of the survey can be viewed at http://kwiksurveys.com/s.asp?sid = hy7chv3aa23sida432926.

Our survey queried the respondents about various publication related issues using questions with either positive or negative answers and questions with answers on a five point Likert scale running from 'strongly disagree to strongly agree'. The participants completed the questionnaire unmonitored. We sent E-mail reminders to those members who did not respond within 15 days of receiving the electronic questionnaire.

A database was created and analysed using Microsoft Excel. We defined a 'faculty' as a teacher in a medical educational institution having an academic rank starting from Assistant Professor up to Professor [4] and a 'medical consultant' in a non-teaching hospital to be a doctor of senior rank within a specific field. [5] We included the senior residents in medical colleges in the faculty group in our study for the sake of convenience.

   Results Top

Out of the 18,270 faculty members and consultants contacted, 600 participants (3.28%) responded to our questionnaire. Twenty-six questionnaire forms were returned incomplete and were not considered for further analysis. The demographics are shown in [Table 2].
Table 2: Demographic characteristics of the respondents

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About 41% had never attended any workshop on scientific writing. It was found that 53.1% of our respondents 'read', 32.8% 'sometimes read' and 14.1% 'never read' more than one journal on a regular basis. Around 60% of our respondents had publications to their credit and 40% did not have any. The responses to the questions related to views on publication were quite interesting [Table 3].
Table 3: Responses to 'publication views' related questions with positive/negative answer

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A total of 42.1% of respondents thought that the rule of mandatory publications was the reason for the origin of several non-indexed journals. Clinical investigations were rated as most significant academically by our respondents (56.4%) followed by review articles (22%), case reports (21%) and editorials (0.6%). However, 47% respondents liked to read most of the review articles; 40%, 8% and 5% liked to read clinical investigations, case reports and editorials respectively.

Regarding the period after article submission, we found that 34.6% respondents check their E-mail every day for an editorial response, 26.6% forget about it for the next several months and 38.8% keep sending reminders to the editor enquiring about their article status.

In case of a submitted article getting rejected, majority of our respondents (76.5%) would like to find out the fallacies of their article and try to improve on it, 8.5% would react via E-mail or telephone to the editor of the journal, 13.9% would immediately submit it to another journal and 1% would blame the editorial team. A total of 35% respondents felt dejected whereas 29% felt that the editorial team was just trying to delay the publication process. A total of 77% respondents felt that they should patiently improve their manuscripts. Our queries related to other publication related author views and practice received interesting answers [Table 4] and [Table 5], [Figure 1].
Figure 1: Respondents' view regarding role of publications in academics

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Table 4: The responses obtained for some questions on publication related author views

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Table 5: The responses obtained for some questions on publication related author practice

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   Discussion Top

Our survey reveals our respondents' previous publication background and training. Almost 40.4% of our survey participants did not have publications to their credit thus showing the current trend of medical scientific writing in India. The real contribution to the world literature from developing nations is minimal across all disciplines in general and anaesthesiology in particular. [6] Our study population included consultants (30.8%); consultants and clinicians may not be able to devote much time to write manuscripts. They may only be able to conduct the study and make an outline of the paper ready. If there are computer assistants, writing becomes much easier. [7] A report states that India ranks ninth in the world with respect to scientific publications. [8] 53.1% of our respondents read and 14.1% never read more than one journal regularly. This depicts the scientific reading habits of our faculty members and consultants. Though our respondents know that clinical investigations are academically more important, they prefer to read review articles. As Howie said 'not all who look at a journal are going to read even one article in it. Writers must know therefore, what turns a looker into a reader.' [9] Our study results depict clearly some interesting publication related views. Eighty one percent of our respondents felt that online/e versions of journals are better read whereas 14% felt that print versions are better read. The major benefits of E-journals are ease of access, saving storage space, increased speed of communication and availability of multimedia information including the ability to hyperlink references. [10],[11] In this era of Google search, publicly accessible peer reviewed non-indexed articles are accessed more by faculty in resource poor countries since they need not pay for reading the full article. [12] Inaccessibility due to lack of online access to the journal, non-archiving, power failures and health problems such as backache and visual problems due to prolonged reading on screens, higher cost, complexities for acquisition, requirement to log on, frustrating interfaces and need for maintenance by expert staff, are some disadvantages of E-journals. [11],[13]

Majority of our respondents (78.3%) graded a journal with its impact factor. Though the impact factor may be a valid indicator of quality and prestige for medical journals, it has its shortcomings. [14] Other approaches to evaluate the prestige of a journal include-asking colleagues for their opinions, relying on published articles that rank journals using various methods and relying on departmental ranking list of journals. [15]

Total of 42% of our respondents agreed with the fact that publications are a question of pride for an academician. Eighty eight percent agreed that publications improve academic skills. The teachers who have publications have definitely an edge over their rivals for promotions. [7] For junior consultants and younger faculty, publications in reputed international journals are a great help when applying for positions and fellowships in foreign institutions. Publications can be regarded as a form of international currency that transcends geographical borders. [16]

Majority of our survey respondents (65%) felt that the peer review process makes an article more useful and of better quality and 16% felt that it was just a means of prolonging the publication or rejecting the article; nevertheless, in an international survey to a question on whether peer review works, 90% respondents said that peer review was mainly effective in improving the quality of publications and 38% were dissatisfied with the peer review times. [17]

According to some authors, the MCI rule of mandatory publications has led to madness to get articles published and this rule has encouraged unethical publication practices such as plagiarism. [7] This is what many respondents to our survey (32%) also felt. This brings to light the fact that 'fraud in science has often been explained as reflecting the misdirected activities of an individual suffering from excessive stress-perhaps a post-doctoral fellow who is anxious to ensure a successful career progression.' [18] Nonetheless, 27% of our respondents felt that publications are a mandatory stress and 57.3% felt that the mandatory number of publications induces unhealthy competition. Forty percent felt that mandatory publications have become a burden to them.

The lack of research experience among Indian medical academics, coupled with the pressure to 'publish or perish' provides an optimum environment for predatory publishers to flourish. [2] This is exactly what our survey revealed; 42.1% of our respondents thought that the rule of mandatory publications was the reason for the origin of several non-indexed journals.

Our survey gives a general overview of certain publication related author practices. Eighty nine percent of our survey respondents considered journal indexing as an important consideration while choosing a journal for article submission whereas 87% considered review/publication time as most important criteria. This shows that in India, publications in indexed journals are highly valued. [12] Regarding the question of choosing a journal for article submission, some researchers have developed comprehensive models to guide both new and experienced researchers. [15]……. Witt noted: 'To me, the most important factors impacting publication preferences are based on who will be able to read the published paper, how available is each journal and what journal databases abstract each journal'. [19] Klinger et al. recommend the authors to seek information about review cycle time and publication time for each journal before submission. [20] Delays in article publication can slow the dissemination of scholarship and can provide a significant burden on the academic career of authors. [21] In a web-based survey, the quality of the journal and the speed of the review/publication process were the two factors rated highly across in the authors' decision to publish in mega journals (open access journals with broad scopes, a review process focusing exclusively on sound methodology and an accelerated publication process). [22]

A majority of our survey respondents (77%) did not feel offended and had the feeling that they should try to improve their manuscripts when a submitted manuscript came back repeatedly to them as authors for author corrections. Nevertheless, revision is, with rare exceptions, an inescapable cross road on the path to publications. [23]

Manuscript rejection is a common painful phenomenon in the publication arena. [24] A total of 76.5% of our respondents said that after rejection they would try to find out the fallacies of the article and improve. This reflects their good scientific aptitude. Desk rejections are generally often related to the scope of the paper, poor quality writing, poor research design, etc. [25] Most of the times, the articles written by Indian researchers are deficient in grammatically correct language and adequate references in support of their statements. Also, the common deficits found are due to poorly planned, conducted and presented research. [9]

Our survey has several implications. A total of 40.6% of our respondents had not attended any workshop on publications. Hence, we recommend that educational articles on good scientific writing should be encouraged. Institutes should make the attendance of workshops on scientific writing mandatory for their staff and students. More frequent workshops on scientific publications need to be held. To promote high quality publications, steps have already been initiated to have a standard 'Indian Society of Anaesthesiologists workshop module' which can be used across India. [26]

As expressed by a majority of our survey respondents, a taste toward research publications should be inculcated in the post-graduate (PG) teaching curriculum itself. As rightly said by some authors, including publication training in the PG curriculum can improve the medical literature appraisal skills of PGs and thus contribute to the overall publications from the institute. [27],[28]

Our survey response for the question on user preferences for online or print journals shows that E-journals have become an important means of scholarly information management. This will help the process of library collection development. We recommend that E-journals should be made available to those without such access.

Our survey depicts the way authors choose journals for publication, their mentality in relation to the submission-revision-acceptance-rejection-publication cycle and how they view elements like impact factors. These findings give a message for journals to speed up their review/publication processes and to improve their impact factors because authors seem to select journals based on these points. In this context, it would be worthwhile to mention that several editors have constantly endeavoured to make Indian Journals like the Indian Journal of Anaesthesia as the most cited journals. [29]

Our study had few limitations. Our survey response rate was less, in spite of us trying measures to improve the response. This may be because of the fact that ours' was mainly an online survey. Online surveys usually achieve less response rates compared to face-to-face paper based surveys. [30] We suggest stronger surveys in the future on this very interesting topic. We could not survey several deeper aspects of knowledge and views regarding publications. This was because of limitations in the length of our survey. Since ours' was mainly an electronic survey, it is possible that computer literacy and accessibility could have affected the respondents' choice for E-journals and electronic submission of manuscripts. Also, the majority of our survey participants were from Karnataka and Maharashtra though we sent the questionnaire to all parts of the country.

   Conclusion Top

The survey attempts to analyse the current trends in publication behaviour of mainly Indian anaesthesiologists. This may influence evidence based policy making related to MCI (regulation to compulsorily 'publish'), PG curriculum planners, conference organisers, library decision makers, journal editors and publishers. Our study suggests that sincere efforts are needed to improve the publication system in order to make it less stressful with a stronger scientific output.


The authors wish to express their heartfelt gratitude to Shree Harsha Ramaswamy, software engineer for his help in designing the electronic survey, Dr. Milind Pol (honorary secretary ISA Maharashtra chapter 2014), Dr. Shyamsunder Kamath (organising secretary of KISACON 2014, Dharwad) and all others who helped us in our electronic and print survey.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

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  [Table 5], [Figure 1]

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4]

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