The finding is reported in an article by Dr. Sean Henderson in the Journal of Emergency Medicine. Henderson is an emergency physician at the University of Southern California.
Henderson compared the number of peer-reviewed research publications produced by academic emergency medicine programs over the five-year period from 1995 through 1999. He then divided the total publications for each program by the number of full-time faculty employed by the respective program in 1999.
Among the 99 programs that qualified to be considered for the study, the ECU Department of Emergency Medicine ranked 9th. The department's 16 faculty produced 48 papers, or 3 papers for each faculty member.
The University of California at San Diego placed first with 93 papers produced by its 17 faculty, for an average of 5.5 each.
Dr. Nicholas Benson, chairman of the ECU Department of Emergency Medicine, is very proud of his department's performance.
"The accolades for this great productivity go to the faculty," he said. "I believe they bring great credit to the Brody School of Medicine and to East Carolina University, as well as to Pitt County Memorial Hospital."
For the purposes of the study, Henderson only considered peer-reviewed articles, excluding letters and abstracts. Institutional credit for a publication was determined by the affiliation of the first author listed for an article.
Benson attributed his department's success in research to a number of factors: His faculty have reached a point in their careers where they have mature research programs; as a department, they have invested in resources that support research, such as a research faculty position held by a neurophysiologist; and they have focused those resources on the ones among them who are most likely to be productive in research, recognizing that while every faculty member must be an excellent teacher and clinician, not all are "destined to make a significant contribution to the scientific literature."
The most important ingredient in research productivity, however, is provided by the individual.
"The success of our department's research activities is due to the individual faculty members' drive and pursuit of excellence," said Benson. "Without the individual's personal drive, all resources will be for naught."
Benson identified a number of research areas in which the department specializes: emergency medical services, air medical transport, injury prevention, toxicology, domestic violence, learning styles, patient demographics, spinal cord injury and motor vehicle crash injuries.