Are You Sure You Want to Do That? Fostering the Responsible Conduct of Medical Education Research
Engaging in questionable research practices (QRPs) is a noted problem across many disciplines, including medical education. While QRPs are rarely discussed in the context of medical education, that does not mean that medical education researchers are immune. Therefore, the authors seek to raise medical educators’ awareness of the responsible conduct of research (RCR) and call the community to action before QRPs negatively affect the field.
The authors define QRPs and introduce examples that could easily happen in medical education research because of vulnerabilities particular to the field. The authors suggest that efforts in research, including medical education research, should focus on facilitating a change in the culture of research to foster RCR, and that these efforts should make explicit both the individual and system factors that ultimately influence researcher behavior. They propose a set of approaches within medical education training initiatives to foster such a culture: empowering research mentors as role models, open airing of research conduct dilemmas and infractions, protecting whistle blowers, establishing mechanisms for facilitating responsibly conducted research, and rewarding responsible researchers.
The authors recommend that efforts at culture change be focused on the growing graduate programs, fellowships, and faculty academies in medical education to ensure that RCR training is an integral component for both students and faculty. They encourage medical education researchers to think creatively about solutions to the challenges they face and to act together as an international community to avoid wasting research efforts, damaging careers, and stunting medical education research through QRPs.