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The difference between what continuing medical education (CME) research suggests results in successful CME and how CME is actually planned has major implications for individuals who plan and conduct CME. There are several strategies based on what this research says that individuals responsible for CME could follow to develop successful CME activities. An obvious first step is to determine what successful CME is. A second strategy is to use a discrepancy model to frame the definition of success into “what is” and “what should be”. A third strategy is to select sources of data and techniques to collect data that sufficiently describe both ends of the gap to facilitate the description and analysis needed for educational planning. This article describes these three strategies.