CHRISMED Journal of Health and Research

: 2018  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 251--252

Research in medical education: Changing trends

Dinesh Kumar Badyal 
 Professor and Head, Department of Pharmacology; Professor, Department of Medical Education; Co-Director, CMCL-FAIMER Regional Institute; Co-Convener, MCI Nodal Centre for Faculty Development, Christian Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana, Punjab, India

Correspondence Address:
Dinesh Kumar Badyal
Department of Pharmacology, Christian Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana - 141 008, Punjab

How to cite this article:
Badyal DK. Research in medical education: Changing trends.CHRISMED J Health Res 2018;5:251-252

How to cite this URL:
Badyal DK. Research in medical education: Changing trends. CHRISMED J Health Res [serial online] 2018 [cited 2021 Jan 27 ];5:251-252
Available from:

Full Text

Medical education has evolved overtime. There has been a lot of experimentation and testing of various medical education concepts whether it is innovative methods such as problem-based or case-based learning, one-minute preceptor or changes in type of curriculum such as competency-based integrated curriculum, or new assessment methods such as objective, structured clinical examination and 360° assessment. The research in these areas has contributed a lot in implementation of various new concepts in medical education.

The concept of research in medical education is slightly different from research in the typical subjects such as pharmacology, medicine, or surgery. There are interesting concepts varying from “innovative methods” to “challenges being thrown onto existing age-old methods.” The research in medical education is unique as the main data is qualitative in nature, i.e., it is more dependent on “words” and not “numbers” unlike in quantitative research in typical subject-based research studies. The research design varies from “one-time studies,” for example, questionnaire-based studies that ask about the reaction of participants, to “detailed studies,” for example, evaluating theories or mechanism of methods and “clarification studies.” Questionnaire-based studies are self-assessment studies where the learner or participants share their initial reactions to the methods. Their reactions in words such as “it really improved my teaching sessions” or “this was the best learning session” usually convey meaningful impact of interventions in educational studies than showing that the score improved after interventions. The detailed studies are usually prospective and follow the cohort of learners over a time period to evaluate the relationship between the cause and effect.[1],[2]

The research in medical education has immensely helped the designing of new curriculum in India. India is presently gearing up for new undergraduate medical curriculum which is competency-based medical education. A number of components of these curricula were researched on before finalization and implementation, for example, early clinical exposure; attitude, ethics, and communication module; integrated teaching modules; small group learning and innovative methods in clinical skills and basic sciences teaching. In 2018, Medical Council of India (MCI) has already posted competency-based MD/MS curricula on its website.[3],[4]

The number of journals and publications are increasing in medical education. There were only a few journals devoted entirely to medical education 5 years ago. However, now, there are a number of journals on medical education, and a number of subject-specific journal have added a medical education section in their journals. One of the reasons for the increase in the number of research projects in medical education is ongoing longitudinal medical education training programs such as Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research (FAIMER) and MCI advance courses. These courses use project-based learning methodology.[5] Each year, >300 research projects in medical education are being conducted. These projects are providing important information about medical education areas specific to India. The institution of postgraduate degree in medical education with dissertation is another avenue for research in medical education. The increasing number of publications in medical education has led to MCI accepting the publications in medical education equivalent to regular subject-based research publications for appointment and promotions of faculty in medical colleges.

Our experience of reviewing these research projects in the last 17 years in FAIMER and MCI programs clearly indicates improvement in the quality of research projects in selecting research question, methodology, and evaluation. Similarly, during mentoring of research projects in medical education, the enthusiasm of the participants is quite visible. However, their enthusiasm sometimes overpowers the concept of research in medical education when they face qualitative research concepts. This happens as most of them are familiar with qualitative research but not with qualitative research, particularly designing questionnaire and qualitative data analysis, for example, most of them struggle to actually design a questionnaire which they earlier thought of as an easy task. Similarly, most of them initially find it difficult to design research projects in medical education. Even the experienced participants who regularly do research in their subject find it difficult to change gears when shifting from quantitative to qualitative research mode.

The research in medical education demands training in qualitative data collection/analysis areas, for example, deigning/validating questionnaires/interviews, writing reflections/narratives and evaluating the written reflections, narratives, and interviews. However, once a researcher becomes familiar about differences in these concepts, it becomes easier to conduct research in medical education.[6],[7]

The future in research in medical education is very promising, and it is expanding at a fast rate. The much improved quality of these research concepts is able to attract attention of all researchers. The number of queries is increasing every month, and participants are quite knowledgeable now about research in medical education areas. This will also help to bridge the gap between so-called “academician” and the “clinician.” Training of all researchers in medical education and the renewed interest in this area will definitely lead to much more relevant products coming into teaching-learning, curriculum designing, and assessment.


1Boet S, Sharma S, Goldman J, Reeves S. Medical education research: An overview of methods. Can J Anaesth 2012;59:159-70.
2Steinert Y, Mann K, Anderson B, Barnett BM, Centeno A, Naismith L, et al. Asystematic review of faculty development initiatives designed to enhance teaching effectiveness: A 10-year update: BEME guide no 40. Med Teach 2016;38:769-86.
3Badyal DK, Lata H. Undergraduate medical education curriculum in India: Is a change needed? Sub Himalayan J Health Res 2016;3:36-40.
4Medical Council of India. PG Curricula. Available from: [Last accessed on 2018 May 14].
5Singh T. Project-based faculty development: Indian perspectives. Int J Appl Basic Med Res 2015;5:S1-2.
6Dolmans DH, van der Vleuten CP. Research in medical education: Practical impact on medical training and future challenges. GMS Z Med Ausbild 2010;27:Doc34.
7Norman G. Research in medical education: Three decades of progress. BMJ 2002;324:1560-2.