BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Strategies introduced to assess -- and reward
-- the productivity of faculty at academic medical centers in the
U.S. do improve faculty research productivity, according to a
systematic review recently published in the Canadian Medical
The paper is available at http://www.cmaj.ca/content/early/2012/05/28/cmaj.111123.
Such strategies also may result in improved clinical
productivity, the study found; however, their impact on teaching
productivity is far less clear.
"When strategies are introduced to assess productivity as part
of a compensation scheme, they appear to improve faculty
productivity in research activities," says Elie A. Akl, MD, MPH,
PhD, lead author and associate professor of medicine, family
medicine and social and preventive medicine at the University at
Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and School of
Public Health and Health Professions. Akl also has an appointment
at McMaster University.
"The data suggest that when faculty productivity is assessed in
connection with an appropriate compensation or incentive scheme,
the results can create positive cultural change within a
department, helping it to achieve its mission," says Akl.
The strategies may have had no apparent effect on teaching
productivity, Akl says, because there truly is no effect, or
because the studies included in this analysis were unable to detect
"Enhancing the productivity of faculty in academic medical
departments is essential for improving their reputation, and
ensuring their growth," says Akl. "This has become vital for
survival amid current financial realities."
He and his co-authors comprehensively and systematically
reviewed the medical literature for studies that evaluated
strategies to assess the productivity of faculty, ultimately
analyzing the results of eight relevant studies.
"When these kinds of productivity assessments coupled with
compensation or incentive schemes are introduced, we found that
compensation increased at both group and individual levels,
particularly among junior faculty," says Akl.
In order to better understand whether and how departments of
medicine in the U.S. are measuring and compensating the
productivity of their faculty, Akl and his colleagues are currently
planning a national survey of chairs of departments of
Akl notes: "We need higher quality evidence about the potential
benefits and harms of such assessment strategies."
His co-authors on the study are from the University at Buffalo,
McMaster University, the Regina Elena National Cancer Institute in
Rome, the German Cochrane Center, the Institute of Biostatics and
Medical Informatics and the University Medical Center at Freiberg.
Funding was provided by the Regina Elena National Cancer Institute