CAEP GeMES | Social Media Scholarship

In Education & Quality Improvement, Great Evidence in Medical education Summary (GEMeS) by Catherine PatockaLeave a Comment

A medical student, Chandra, is interested in Emergency Medicine and wants to get involved in research to pad her resume and network. Unfortunately, at her site, there are few Emergency Physicians who are interested in research and the Emergency Department is not conducting any research studies. On the other hand, Chandra loves FOAMed and sees a myriad of exciting projects and possibilities through social media. She wonders whether social media is a way she could get involved in research.

Social media remains a new field, but as the quantity and quality of its research increases, standards are required to ensure that new research meets or exceeds traditional research rigor. This “Great Evidence in Medical education Summary” (GEMeS – pronounced “gems”), titled “How can innovations and research that incorporate social media applications be adjudicated as scholarship?” was originally posted by the CAEP EWG GEMeS Team on November 25, 2015. A PDF version of the GEMeS summary is available here.

Bottom Line

This article provides criteria that help to define and evaluate social media-based scholarship. According to the authors, social media-based scholarship in health professions education must:
  • Be original.
  • Advance the field of health professions education by building on theory, research or best practice.
  • Be archived and disseminated.
  • Provide the health professions education community with the ability to comment on and provide feedback in a transparent fashion that informs wider discussion.
Sherbino J, Arora VM, Van Melle E, et al. Criteria for social media-based scholarship in heath professions education. Postgrad Med J 2015;91:551-555
Study Design
Consensus process
Funding Source
The consensus process took place at the 2014 International Conference on Residency Education’s Social Media Summit in Health Professions Education
Level of Learning
Faculty Development

Synopsis of Study

The purpose of this study was to define the criteria for social media-based scholarship in health professions education using a consensus of health professions educators. The authors drafted a statement based on themes identified in the literature. The consensus process involved posting a draft statement on an open interactive platform two weeks prior to the consensus conference followed by a two hour session at the conference where people could participate virtually or in-person. Fifty-two health professions educators from 20 organizations in four countries participated. The two hour facilitated session involved an iterative process to modify, add or delete components. Importantly, all participants had to endorse the statement before it was considered final.
A few key highlights of the criteria:
  • Although social media makes it easy to reproduce or minimally alter and disseminate others’ ideas, the criteria of originality ensures only original work is considered scholarship.
  • Social media is valuable as it can create an interactive connected learning experience that facilitates transparent critical appraisal and enables advancement of health professions research and innovation
  • Social media allows for multiple authors to have varied levels of contribution to a project, but criteria for authorship should continue to be based on the standards established by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE).
  • Given the possibility of near simultaneous development and publication process through social media, scholars should take active steps to prevent unintentional premature release of an innovation that might negatively impact the health professions community.

Why is it relevant to Emergency Medicine Education?

Social media, defined as any Internet-based application that enables content sharing and rapid interactions between large populations, is rapidly emerging as a medium for emergency medicine learners and educators.1,2

Traditional metrics used for evaluation of scholarship and academic acknowledgement may not adequately capture or characterize social-media based scholarship, therefore the authors suggest criteria specific for this modality that may help us better understand and adequately recognize the influence of such work.


1) Cadogan M, Thoma B, Chan TM, et al. Free open access meducation (FOAM): the rise of emergency medicine and critical care blogs and podcasts (2002-2013). Emerg Med J. 2014.
2) Mallin M, Schlein S, Doctor S, et al. A survey of the current utilization of asynchronous education among emergency medicine residents in the United States. Acad Med J Assoc Am Med Coll. 2014; 89: 598-601.

Share success stories of social media-based projects that resulted in conference presentations or publications below!


More About the CAEP GEMeS

This post was originally authored for the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians (CAEP) Great Evidence in Medical Education Summaries (GEMeS) project sponsored by the CAEP Academic Section’s Education Working Group and edited by Drs. Teresa Chan and Julien Poitras. CAEP members receive GEMeS each month in the CAEP Communiqué. CanadiEM will be reposting some of these summaries, along with a case/contextualizing concept to highlight some recent medical education literature that is relevant to our nation’s teachers.


Catherine Patocka

Catherine Patocka

Catherine Patocka is an Emergency Physician based in Calgary. She is currently completing her Masters of Health Professions Education through Maastricht University in the Netherlands. Her research interests and expertise include spaced learning, technology and educational design.
Catherine Patocka

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Daniel Ting

Daniel Ting is an Emergency Physician and Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of British Columbia, based in Vancouver. He is the Editor-in-Chief of CanadiEM and a Decision Editor at the Canadian Journal of Emergency Medicine. He completed the CanadiEM Digital Scholarship Fellowship in 2017-18. No conflicts of interest (COI).