Friday, January 13, 2023.
Academia in Nkitinkiti Government Hospital: ‘vultures’ and parachute science
Conference Room: Nkitinkiti Government Hospital
Acting Medical Superintendent in a meeting with medical doctors
Dr. Dr. Anibie: I have called you today on a very important issue: Academia. We must put Nkitinkiti Government Hospital on the world map. We have therefore decided to collaborate with two institutions, so that we can do research and also publish our work. We are doing a lot of work in this hospital that the world should know about. We are going to collaborate with Wolo Teaching Hospital in the capital city and another institute abroad. Prof. Owuomposuro and his team from Wolo will be here next week. The following week, a team from the foreign institution will be here. Let’s make them feel at home when they arrive.
A: Ei. These people are finally here. Prof. Owuomposuro wants to publish work in all the hospitals in this country? And present it to the world as if he has been doing all the work?
B: They were in our neighbouring district hospital (Mpatampata District Hospital) two years ago. My friend, Dr. Selorm had gone to specialise. When he came back, they had published work on all the surgeries he performed there for close to a decade. They didn’t contact him to be a coauthor, they didn’t even acknowledge him in the publications.
C: But if Dr. Selorm wouldn’t publish the data, shouldn’t someone publish it? The data belongs to the country. I support Prof. Owuomposuro.
R: Is that what they are coming to do in this hospital?
Dr. Dr. Anibie: They will build capacity in this hospital so that we shall be able to publish on our own in future.
Dr. T: Dr. Dr. Anibie, as far as I am aware, they have not built any capacity in any hospital in this country for the hospital to publish on their own. They enjoy it when there is no capacity built in an institution. They take advantage and continue to go there and take their data. They are vultures. They do not participate in the hunt for the animal but are keen on having the carcass.
Kwaku Nkrabea: I have read many of their papers. Typically, Prof. Owuomposuro’s mentee is the first author and may double as the corresponding author. Prof. Owuomposuro is the senior author and has his name at the end. Sometimes he is the corresponding author. Then there are several people from Wolo Teaching Hospital as second, third author etc. If the institution is fortunate, one or two people will have their names somewhere in the middle. Most often, they say the staff in the institutions they visit have not done enough to qualify as authors.
Dr. Ahuofe: Ei. So that is what is going to happen here? Look, Dr. Kwaku Nkrabea here has performed some 5,000 myomectomies and hysterectomies. Not to talk about caesarean sections and other surgeries. To me, he is a clinical Professor.
C: Tweaa. What Professor? Where are his peer-reviewed publications? The currency in academia is peer-reviewed publications, not what you have done or can do clinically.
A: Who said tweaa?
Dr. Ahuofe: So Prof. Owuomposuro will bring his team and publish work on ‘Surgery for uterine fibroids in Ogyakrom’ and he and his mentee who have never seen fibroids before will be senior author and first author?
C: Yes. That is what is going to happen. If you don’t want that, publish your own work.
Dr. Ahuofe: How can Kwaku Nkrabea be working in the hospital around the clock with no free day in the week allocated to him for research, and and we expect him to publish like Prof. Owuomposuro’s team? This is not fair. Then our doctors must have some time for academia and publications. Then some people even say if you don’t have a PhD, you cannot be a lecturer in the Teaching Hospital. That is another matter.
Kwaku Nkrabea: I won’t be surprised if some doctors here will push for time for publications only to go and do locum at Opompojay Specialist Hospital, Prof. Asempa’s private hospital.
Dr. Ahuofe: Hmmm. As for this, I will not count it as one of your prophecies.
Kwaku Nkrabea: Let’s face it. The system has created this parachute science. It rewards those who publish. Promotions are based on the number of peer-reviewed papers published, so we shall continue to have parachute science, salami slicing, even forgery by people to get more peer-reviewed publications.
Dr. Ahuofe: What is salami slicing?
Kwaku Nkrabea: They split data derived from a single research idea into multiple smaller publishable units or slices. So that they can have more papers.
Dr. Ahuofe: If Prof. Owuomposuro and his team are interested in improving health outcomes, why don’t they support us with more clinical staff, so that we can see patients better, generate quality data and also publish our own work?
A: They are interested in your data, that’s all. You are naive. Your eyes will open.
B: And the foreign team that Dr. Dr. Anibie mentioned. They are worse than Prof. Owuomposuro and his team. Dr. Selorm fought with them at Mpatampata District Hospital.
Dr. Ahuofe: What happened there?
B: They brought a grant of $10,000. This amount included their travel expenses. The grant insisted that all publications should have members from the foreign country as lead author and senior author. How cheap can we be!
Dr. Ahuofe: And they accepted it?
B: Yes. You know how some of our people behave when they see small money. I told Dr. Selorm. Like you said, it is like publishing work on ‘Surgery for uterine fibroids in Ogyakrom’ and the first author and senior author are foreigners who have never seen fibroids before. And will be presenting the work at international conferences like experts in fibroids.
Dr. Ahuofe: This is sad.
B: You should have seen the team when they arrived in Mpatampata District Hospital. It was as if the hospital belonged to them. They decided what had to be done in the laboratory and other places because they brought a few equipment. I asked Dr. Selorm and some of the staff there if they could do that if they go to their so called partners’ countries. We are pathetic.
Q: We are even fortunate these foreigners went through the process to get ethical clearance for the work. Sometimes all they have to do is to see a ‘big person’ at the Ministries with a few hundred dollars. The ‘big person’ will write a letter for them for somebody to go across the country for data. The foreigners don’t even have to come to the district themselves. Some of our own people will do it for them.
W: Now with all hospiral records going to be electronic, they can sit in their countries and publish our work.
Dr. Ahuofe: Conspiracy!
W: You are young and naive. You will grow and understand.
Kwaku Nkrabea: Dr. Dr. Anibie, our destiny lies in our own hands. Let’s organise courses to build capacity in our hospital to be able to publish our own work. And let’s give clinicians some time to do academic work, not always stay in the clinic, on the wards and in theatre.
To be continued.
The characters in this piece are fictitious; any resemblance to real people or facts within your Corporate Institution is pure coincidence only.