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Br J Gen Pract. 1990 December; 40(341): 491–494.
PMCID: PMC1371444

A survey of doctorates by thesis among general practitioners in the British Isles from 1973 to 1988.


Doctors who were general practitioners in the period 1973-88 and had written a successful MD or PhD thesis were identified. Of 96 doctorates, 64 were MDs and 32 PhDs. Fourteen doctors had obtained their MD before becoming general practitioners and the remaining 50 after becoming general practitioners. Twenty of the 64 doctors were full time or part time members of a university department of general practice; six of these were professors. In this 16 year study the mean annual number of MDs written by doctors while in general practice was three, compared with five in the previous 15 years. Of the PhDs, 11 were obtained before starting a medical course, six during the pre-clinical period, three after qualifying but before entry into general practice and 12 after entry into general practice. Ninety two per cent of the 50 doctors who obtained their MDs while in general practice and 84% of all the doctors with MDs continued to do research afterwards. Further research was carried out by 81% of doctors with a PhD. The best way of producing good researchers in general practice is to encourage doctors to accept the challenge of writing a PhD or an MD thesis. This study has shown that writing such a thesis encourages rather than discourages a doctor to undertake further research.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Williams WO. MD by thesis from general practice. Br J Med Educ. 1969 Sep;3(3):171–175. [PubMed]
  • Whitfield AG. Higher medical and surgical degrees of the University of Birmingham. Br J Med Educ. 1967 Dec;1(5):359–362. [PubMed]
  • Wilson GM. Degree of MD by thesis. Br J Med Educ. 1966 Dec;1(1):58–61. [PubMed]
  • McManus IC. The MD and MS degrees in Britain. BMJ. 1988 Jul 9;297(6641):115–117. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Juel-Jensen Bent. The MD and MS degrees in Britain. BMJ. 1988 Aug 06;297(6645):a426–426. [PMC free article]

Articles from The British Journal of General Practice are provided here courtesy of Royal College of General Practitioners