Publish like a pro: 5 expert strategies for innovative research

AMA Wire
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Whether you’re training in an academic medical center, teaching first-year students or investigating novel topics as a fellow, publishing research can boost your CV and make you a more appealing candidate to employers. This is especially true for residents and fellows who plan to pursue careers in academic medicine. Want to write like a med ed pro? It’s never too early to learn. Follow these expert strategies to effectively write and publish research on innovations in graduate medical education (GME).

Finding your next “innovative” idea

When you hear the words “medical education” and “innovation,” what comes to mind? Perhaps futuristic simulations, expansive curriculum overhauls or even thousand-dollar modules promising the next breakthrough in clinical training.

But the most creative academic research often originates with a simple quest for new ways to solve existing problems or to improve education, according to authors of a recent editorial article in the Journal of Graduate Medical Education.

Far-reaching or exorbitantly expensive ideas don’t automatically embody originality, which is why the article authors encourage educators (and those of you planning to become educators) to “harvest the low-hanging fruits”—assessment tools, faculty development or curriculum changes—of medical education and write about them in bold scholarly research.

How to write and publish GME innovations

From devising a better way to learn during night floats to piloting solutions for tricky schedule conflicts, residents encounter an abundance of “low-hanging fruit” to harvest as ripe publishing material. If you plan to write about future med ed innovations, the article recommends:

Finding a mentor

“Writing mentors can be peers, but more often they are senior faculty members with a record of publication success,” the authors wrote. “Mentors can help with the technical aspects of writing—how to clearly write about an innovation and how to navigate the publication process—as well as with organizing and regulating one’s time and motivation. Writing mentors can be found at regional and national education meetings.”

Organizing a writing team or community of education scholars

Discussing and sharing ideas with a group of trusted peers can help innovation writers overcome barriers in the publication process. Writing teams foster shared member resources, tasks and skills.  

“These communities also help members stay motivated and accountable to agreed-on writing deadlines,” the authors noted.

Approaching education activities in a scholarly manner

Authors of the article recommend educators follow six standards for successful scholarship established by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. According to the foundation, high-quality scholarship is characterized by:

  • Clear goals
  • Adequate preparation
  • Appropriate methods
  • Significant results
  • Effective presentation
  • Reflective critique

“From a practical perspective, these six standards are a useful framework for guiding a rigorous and scholarly approach to the work of medical educators,” the article authors wrote.

Scheduling time for writing

“Just as a meeting goes on the calendar, so too should time for writing. Although we prefer a minimum of one hour for writing, studies show that even 15 minutes weekly can be sufficient for progress. Also, educators should not become discouraged by very rough first drafts: Often the best ideas come later, during the revision phase,” the authors suggest.

Reading academic publications and following their social media

While reading every health profession publication is not possible, the article authors recommend educators “ask their library to set up a saved search on a specific area of interest. For example, GME and outcomes, resident wellness and resiliency, or predicting performance and standardized tests.”      

These searches will generate articles that the library can send to a personal email address.

The article also suggests educators peruse the table of contents in medical journals and follow publications’ Twitter handles for relevant information related to their research. Starting a medical education journal club is also a great way to build a community of peers to discuss publishing and written material.

Ready to get published? Start with these resources

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Apr 17, 2018
The University of Michigan Medical School has implemented a curricular overhaul that includes giving fourth-year students road maps to avoid the scourge of senioritis.