Barriers to research productivity amongst postgraduate trainees: results from a survey of 333 medical and surgical residents

Saqib K. Bakhshi, Komal Abdul Rahim, Asma A.H. Merchant, Noreen Afzal, Namra Qadeer Shaikh, Ali A. Noorali, Maryam P.A. Lakhdir, Saad B.Z. Mahmood, Muhammad Tariq, Adil H. Haider

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: We aimed to determine the perceptions of, barriers to, and predictors of research engagement amongst residents at a national level in Pakistan. Methods: This cross-sectional study used REDCap for online survey dissemination to residents from 12 institutes accredited by the national accreditation body (College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan) for core medical and surgical specialties. Logistic regression was used to estimate associations between likelihood of publications and participant characteristics. Results: The response rate was 79% (333/423), with 171 (51%) medical and 162 (49%) surgical residents. The mean ± standard deviation age was 28.8 ± 2.7 years; 137 (41%) were males and 195 (59%) females. More than half the residents, 202 (61%), had received research training, but 189 (57%) scored <33% on basic research knowledge. While most residents agreed on the positive impact of research on their careers (P =. 012) and realized that they should be involved in it (P =. 33), they also strongly believed that it was difficult to engage in research during training (P <. 01). Only 60 (18%) trainees had published a paper in local and 37 (11%) in international journals, respectively. The most significant barriers to conducting research included time limitation due to clinical work, lack of financial support, and unavailability of data (P <. 01). Conclusion: Residents have a positive attitude towards research. However, research engagement among residents is low. Improving research mentorship and creating systems that enable protected time and institutional access to data are needed to increase research output of postgraduate trainees. Key messages: What is already known on this topic: Postgraduate trainees benefit academically from research conducted during residency training. However, in low- and middle-income countries like Pakistan, research output among residents has remained low over the years. The nation has consistently produced very little research. What this study adds: The current study helped shed light on the reasons for low research productivity amongst medical and surgical residents in Pakistan. How this study might affect research, practice, or policy: The potential predictors for low research involvement highlighted in this study necessitate modification of the existing national residency curriculum to increase research engagement and productivity among residents. Not only can the potential factors be improved, but the study also helps in bringing stakeholders' attention to increasing research opportunities in Pakistan.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1182-1188
Number of pages7
JournalPostgraduate Medical Journal
Issue number1177
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2023


  • medical education and training
  • postgraduate residency training
  • research productivity


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