Compliance with research standards within gynecologic oncology fellowship: A Gynecologic Oncology Fellowship Research Network (GOFRN) study


      • Gynecologic oncology fellow non-compliance with research standards is high.
      • Areas of non-adherence include authorship assignment and non-secure data storage.
      • Pressure from senior authors and lack of support may predispose to non-adherence.
      • Barriers to non-adherence should be addressed.



      Participation in clinical and basic science research is emphasized in gynecologic oncology training. We sought to identify trends in adherence to expected research practices and reasons for non-adherence among gynecologic oncology fellows.


      An anonymous 31-question online survey assessing academic behaviors, including IRB compliance, authorship assignment, data sharing, and potential barriers to non-adherence was distributed to all SGO gynecologic oncology fellow members in July 2016. Descriptive statistics and univariate analyses were performed.


      Of 190 members, 35.3% (n = 67) responded. 73% (n = 49) of respondents reported personal non-compliance and 79.1% (n = 53) reported having witnessed others being non-complaint with at least one expected research practice. Areas of compliance failure included changing a research question without appropriate IRB amendment (20%; n = 14), conducting research under a nonspecific IRB (13.9%; n = 9), and performing research without IRB approval (6.1%; n = 4). Longer institutional time for IRB approval was significantly associated with IRB non-adherence (p < 0.05). First year fellows were more likely to use a nonspecific IRB (p = 0.04) or expand a question without amending the IRB (p = 0.04). When asked about storage of protected health information (PHI) for research, 53% reported non-secure storage with 17.1% (n = 6) having done so for >1000 patients. Thirty respondents (45.5%) assigned authorship to someone who failed to meet ICMJE criteria and twelve (18.5%) accepted authorship without meeting ICMJE criteria. Most commonly cited reasons for non-adherence were: cumbersome IRB processes (80.3%), pressure from senior authors (78.8%), fear of someone else publishing first, (74.2%) and lack of support navigating appropriate research practices (71.2%).


      Fellow non-compliance with expected research practices is high, particularly with regards to secure storage of PHI and appropriate authorship assignment. Time-consuming and cumbersome IRB procedures, perceived pressure from senior authors, and lack of research support contribute to non-adherence. Further support and education of gynecologic oncology fellows is needed in order to help address these barriers.


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