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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 274-275

Research in medical education: The road ahead

Department of Pharmacology, Himalayan Institute of Medical Sciences, Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India

Date of Submission22-Feb-2019
Date of Decision07-Jul-2019
Date of Acceptance16-Jul-2019
Date of Web Publication21-Nov-2019

Correspondence Address:
Juhi Kalra
Department of Pharmacology, Himalayan Institute of Medical Sciences, Dehradun, Uttarakhand
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/cjhr.cjhr_21_19

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How to cite this article:
Kalra J. Research in medical education: The road ahead. CHRISMED J Health Res 2019;6:274-5

How to cite this URL:
Kalra J. Research in medical education: The road ahead. CHRISMED J Health Res [serial online] 2019 [cited 2021 Jun 18];6:274-5. Available from: https://www.cjhr.org/text.asp?2019/6/4/274/271331


The article by Dr. Badyal[1] and the subsequent commentary on the article-”Reconsidering the axioms of medical education researches – What we need first?” has added some useful insights to “research in medical education.” It has artfully brought up several pertinent issues, one of them being the “complexity faced by the faculty while honing educational scholarship.” These “complexities” are the “Challenges” that lie ahead. Although it may seem that cross-sectional studies in medical education far exceed longitudinal studies currently, follow-up and longitudinal studies will be useful in estimating the long-term impact of educational research. Currently, cross-sectional studies are providing a good bird's-eye view of the existing scenario in our education system and its lacunae and strengths, which can be furthered on a long-term basis. To begin with, these small interventional and questionnaire-based studies are generating generous data. They are laying a sound foundation for more elaborate studies which can explore the theories of qualitative research. Hence, every millimeter of research will eventually add up to inches and even larger units.

Qualitative research due to its inductive approach can help generate hypothesis and hence must be taken up with greater zeal.[2] The triangulation of data for deriving meanings from perceptions and psychology rather than ignoring or dismissing them in the run for numbers and statistical significances is the need of the hour. The significance of qualitative research is well ensembled in this quotation by James P. Spradley:

“I want to understand the world from your point of view. I want to know what you know in the way you know it. I want to understand the meaning of your experience, to walk in your shoes, to feel things as you feel them, to explain things as you explain them. Will you become my teacher and help me understand?”

Analysis of the themes and iterative interpretations derived from qualitative data can make the research rich in context. It is difficult to assign numbers to context or give them a statistical significance; hence, using a mixed-methods approach where numbers are complemented with contexts can add meaning to the jugglery of words and can be skillfully applied wherever needed. The medical education researcher who harnesses qualitative research can thus contribute phenomenally to quality research. Scott Reeves has mentioned about the significance of using theories of education such as the grounded theory, theory of phenomenology, critical theory, or that of interactiveness for designing appropriate methodology.[3] Because qualitative research can be easily plagued with bias, adequate training on the correct methodology for qualitative research is needed. Avoiding bias will be a major challenge. The differences of belief inherent in the context when quoted verbatim will minimize bias or misinterpretation of context, keeping the research open to all possibilities and interpretations.

However, there is a need for training programs that focus on training faculty for research in medical education because until a novice is specifically trained at qualitative research methodologies, medical education research will continue to be both complex and a challenge.

The article also mentions that efforts rendered toward medical education researches are sometimes undervalued compared to their counterpart biomedical researches. The author's concern has been voiced earlier where the lack of a sense of identity among the medical education researchers in the context of medical education research has been termed as the “Ugly duckling.”[5] The researcher's identity shall remain obscure and may not gain glory it deserves until the research is relevant and matches the societal expectations or enhances student learning or involves the principles engrained in “Social Sciences and Medical Humanities.” The results must be substantial and tangible, and this can happen with careful planning of research.

The need for curricular reforms which were on the anvil until the release of a new curriculum by the Medical Council of India can be best supported by good research. Research questions can be derived from the variety of contexts embedded in the new curriculum and its implementation.[4] With attitudes and communication getting a prominent place in the proposed GMER 2019, contextual data and subtle meanings will have to be interpreted not just based on personal experiences, but in a systematic and scientific manner so that beliefs and behaviors are interpreted in the right context. Educational research will add value to the current education system provided we are genuine and committed. Thematic content analysis and relevant literature review shall help connecting dots from the past with the present and reveal methods of improvising along the way. We can no longer survive on serendipity and numbers; we need to take a deeper look into psychology and into theories of qualitative research if we wish to convert the “Cinderella discipline into the frog prince” of Jacob Ludwig Grimm and Wilhelm Carl Grimm.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Badyal DK. Research in medical education: Changing trends. CHRISMED J Health Res 2018;5:251-2.  Back to cited text no. 1
  [Full text]  
Astalin PK. Qualitative research designs: A conceptual framework. Int J Soc Sci Interdiscip Res 2013;2:118-24.  Back to cited text no. 2
Reeves S, Albert M, Kuper A, Hodges BD. Why use theories in qualitative research? BMJ 2008;337:a949.  Back to cited text no. 3
Supe A, Burdick WP. Challenges and issues in medical education in India. Acad Med 2006;81:1076-80.  Back to cited text no. 4
Sabel E, Archer J; Early Careers Working Group at the Academy of Medical Educators. “Medical education is the ugly duckling of the medical world” and other challenges to medical educators' identity construction: A qualitative study. Acad Med 2014;89:1474-80.  Back to cited text no. 5


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