Journal of Pathology Informatics Journal of Pathology Informatics
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RESEARCH ARTICLE
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 16

Burden and characteristics of unsolicited emails from medical/scientific journals, conferences, and webinars to faculty and trainees at an academic pathology department


1 Department of Pathology, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City, IA, USA
2 Hardin Library for The Health Sciences, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Matthew D Krasowski
Department of Pathology, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, 200 Hawkins Drive, C-671 GH, Iowa City, IA 52242
USA
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/jpi.jpi_12_19

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Background: Professionals and trainees in the medical and scientific fields may receive high e-mail volumes for conferences and journals. In this report, we analyze the amount and characteristics of unsolicited e-mails for journals, conferences, and webinars received by faculty and trainees in a pathology department at an academic medical center. Methods: With informed consent, we analyzed 7 consecutive days of e-mails from faculty and trainees who voluntarily participated in the study and saved unsolicited e-mails from their institutional e-mail address (including junk e-mail folder) for medical/scientific journals, conferences, and webinars. All e-mails were examined for characteristics such as reply receipts, domain name, and spam likelihood. Journal e-mails were specifically analyzed for claims in the message body (for example, peer review, indexing in databases/resources, rapid publication) and actual inclusion in recognized journal databases/resources. Results: A total of 17 faculty (4 assistant, 4 associate, and 9 full professors) and 9 trainees (5 medical students, 2 pathology residents, and 2 pathology fellows) completed the study. A total of 755 e-mails met study criteria (417 e-mails from 328 unique journals, 244 for conferences, and 94 for webinars). Overall, 44.4% of e-mails were flagged as potential spam by the institutional default settings, and 13.8% requested reply receipts. The highest burden of e-mails in 7 days was by associate and full professors (maximum 158 or approximately 8200 per year), although some trainees and assistant professors had over 30 e-mails in 7 days (approximately 1560 per year). Common characteristics of journal e-mails were mention of “peer review” in the message body and low rates of inclusion in recognized journal databases/resources, with 76.4% not found in any of 9 journal databases/resources. The location for conferences in e-mails included 31 different countries, with the most common being the United States (33.2%), Italy (9.8%), China (4.9%), United Kingdom (4.9%), and Canada (4.5%). Conclusions: The present study in an academic pathology department shows a high burden of unsolicited e-mails for medical/scientific journals, conferences, and webinars, especially to associate and full professors. We also demonstrate that some pathology trainees and junior faculty are receiving an estimated 1500 unsolicited e-mails per year.


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