The biggest factor contributing to more first-author publications for radiation oncology residents is the amount of designated research time given during their residency, according to results from a Web-based survey completed by 97 radiation oncologists and current senior residents. Physicians in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital published the study in the Journal of American College of Radiology.

Anecdotally, there seems to be much variability in the productivity of radiation oncology residents. Some publish numerous articles, whereas others produce less. However, what leads to this variability remains undefined. Researchers say it appears that previous individual accomplishments or values among residents—often thought of as critical factors—seem to play less of a role than time and structure of a program. The results imply that academic success is not simply the result of innate ability but rather the structural aspects of residency programs.