Publication rate of 309 MMed dissertations submitted between 1996 and 2017: Can registrars fulfil HPCSA Form 57 MED amendments?

E S Grossman


Background. The recent amendment to the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) Form 57 MED allows specialist registration on publication of the compulsory MMed research assignment in an accredited journal. No data exist on the conversion rate of MMed dissertations to publication.

Objectives. To establish conversion rates of MMed dissertations to accredited publications. Associated variables arising from the publishing exercise were also investigated.

Methods. A total of 309 MMed dissertations, submitted between 1996 and 2017, were downloaded from the public domain. Each dissertation was recorded as to format, submission year, awarding university and clinical discipline. Electronic searches determined publication outcomes. Journal title, accreditation status, year of publication, registrar position on author ranking and publication type were extracted for each output. Descriptive analysis was undertaken and, where appropriate, Fisher’s exact test at p>0.05 was used to establish statistical significance.

Results. A total of 116 dissertations were published at an overall conversion rate of 37.5%, culminating in 136 outputs. Publication-ready dissertations had a significantly higher conversion rate (60.3%) than monographs (30.5%) (p>0.0001). All but 6 of the 80 publishing journals were accredited. SAMJ was the journal of choice for 13% of papers. The registrar was the first author in the majority of publications. In the case of monographs, 66% were published after dissertation submission compared with 50% of publication-ready formats.

Conclusions. Conversion of the South African MMed dissertation into a journal-accredited scientific article was achieved in 60.3% of publication-ready-format submissions, suggesting that the HPCSA amendment facilitating specialist registration is attainable. Retrospective reviews of dissertations provide valuable insights to improve understanding of the contentious issue of the registrar research requirement that permits specialist registration.

Author's affiliations

E S Grossman, East London and Port Elizabeth Health Resource Centres, Faculty of Health Sciences, Walter Sisulu University, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa

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HPCSA; Publication; MMed; Research; Dissertations; Form 57 Med

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2020;110(4):302-307. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2020.v110i4.14339

Article History

Date submitted: 2020-03-30
Date published: 2020-03-30

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