ST3 Portfolio Building Essentials: Area 5 – 7: Research and Audit


In summary, Areas 5-7 focus on research publication experience, conference presentations, and audits/quality improvement projects, essential for demonstrating your research leadership potential. In Area 5, assessors value publications in PubMed-indexed journals, with first-author articles earning the most points. Starting early in your career is crucial to accumulate a robust publication record. For Area 6, conference presentations showcase the impact and relevance of your scientific work. Collaborations can enhance your profile and network, though oral presentations are preferred over posters. Area 7 evaluates your participation in audit and quality improvement projects. Fully closed-loop audits garner more points, and presenting comprehensive evidence is key. Collaborating with colleagues can expedite project completion, making audits and QIPs a practical way to boost your portfolio quickly.

Area 5: Research Publication Experience

Your publications are among the most distinguishing elements of a portfolio showcasing your potential for research leadership. In this area, assessors examine the number of articles you have published in journals indexed by PubMed. It is essential to note that assessors do not count published abstracts, case reports, letters, or technical tips.

In scoring, first-author publications earn the highest points (two points), while non-first-author publications or collaborations earn one point. I recommend starting early in your career to achieve a high score, as research requires a significant time commitment. Use journals that offer quick turnaround times on reviews and affordable editing and publication fees, e.g., The Cureus Journal of Medical Sciences.

Suppose you are unable to meet the time demands of this section. In that case, you can focus on collaborations, assisting other first authors with their publications, or even publishing your university dissertation or thesis papers.

Building a respectable publication record in the long term gives you a substantial competitive advantage compared to your peers. It is, therefore, paramount that you begin working on this early.

Area 6: Conference presentations

Apart from research publications, conference presentations reflect the volume and relevance of scientific work presented to the broader community. This is an important metric in gauging the impact of a researcher’s work. Investing in this area can yield significant other benefits, especially for those looking to build their profile and network.

One effective strategy to maximize scores in this area is through collaborative efforts with other researchers. Engaging in mutually beneficial research partnerships wherein your contributions are acknowledged can help to drive impact and recognition quickly. You will score points as long as your name appears on the authors list on the conference presentation.

It’s worth noting, however, that poster presentations are not considered as they typically don’t offer the same level of visibility and interaction as oral presentations.

Portfolio area 7: Audits & Quality Improvement

Portfolio area 7 assesses your proficiency in audit and/or quality improvement projects (QIPs). Each audit/QIP executed garners a point. A fully closed-looped audit, if you are involved in both audit cycles of the project, will merit 2 points.

Demonstrative evidence may include certificates of completion or participation in the project, presentations, and project summaries. Consolidate all evidence into a single file or pdf for each project. Letters from your quality departments or clinical leads confirming your participation and presentation may also serve as evidence. Remember, you must present a project summary for each audit/QIP.

Be sure to familiarize yourself with all projects submitted as evidence. Interviewers might ask subjects surrounding them. Avoid exaggerations or embellishments, and only submit projects you have actively participated in. Once again, collaborating with colleagues can extend your scope and volume of projects quickly. These projects are faster and easier to achieve than research publications.

A simple, synergistic approach that might work to make the most of your audit or QIP is:

  1. Conduct/ participate in an audit (Audit points)
  2. Involve others and document your leadership/ management role in the project (Leadership points)
  3. Present the audit at a Local forum, then Regional and National Conference (Presentation points)
  4. Publish your Audit (Research points)
  5. Teach about conducting audits/ QIPs (Teaching points)


To score the maximum points in the research and audit section:

  • Research publications take significant time and resources. Start these projects early. If you haven’t started yet, focus on audits and conference presentations.
  • Publishing your university thesis or dissertation, if you have one, might be the quickest way to get a publication.
  • Collaborating with other doctors interested in research, audits, and quality improvement is the fastest way to achieve results in this section. Find a senior mentor in your department and work with other doctors planning to apply for training or on academic pathways.
  • Engage in joint multi-centre research collaborations and take on a significant role, such as a hospital or regional lead. These projects may earn you points in publications, audits, and presentations. Additionally, you can use the leadership and management experience in Portfolio Area 9.
  • Synergize your efforts; you can earn multiple points from a single project. For example, an audit can be presented at multiple conferences and can also be made into a publication.
  • Work with multiple colleagues on several projects simultaneously to achieve a higher volume of work in a shorter time.

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