The Case: Ima Author, the scientific lead for educational company Educational Innovations in Ophthalmology, was thrilled to learn the Society for the Advancement of Macular Biology of the Americas had accepted the abstract she submitted for a poster presentation at the upcoming SAMBA conference. Ima immediately calls to share the good news with Ethan Ethical, the CME director for Rocky Mountain Medical School, the accredited provider for the educational initiative that was the subject of the abstract. Ima is shocked when Ethan bombards her with questions and seems angry that he wasn’t involved in writing and submitting the abstract.
Why is Ethan so upset?
Overstreet: In this case, Ethan—and perhaps some of his colleagues who were integrally involved in planning the education—likely meet the criteria for authorship, and they should have been included on the abstract.
What are the criteria for authorship?
Overstreet: Providers considering publication should read the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors’ Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals. Authors who likely should be credited include anyone who has made substantive intellectual contributions to the work; the individual must be integrally involved in the conception and design of the study or manuscript, acquisition of the data, or analysis and interpretation of the data.
Parochka: To be credited as an author, the person also must take responsibility for at least one component of the work (e.g., data acquisition, statistical analysis), should be able to identify who is responsible for the other components, and should be confident in their co-authors’ ability and integrity. All authors should be involved in drafting the manuscript or critical review and revision of the manuscript.
Why would education providers want to publish their “proprietary” information?
Overstreet: Providers and other CME stakeholders are collecting and analyzing data to demonstrate the impact that continuing education has on learners and patients. When CME providers publish results of their outcomes studies, physician learners beyond the targeted audience may be prompted to reflect on their individual performance and practice. CME providers can also learn and improve their own practice based on data presented in educational conferences and publications.
Parochka: Publication or presentation in clinical and educational forums builds credibility and reputation for CME providers and acknowledges support from grantors (if applicable). Publishing results of outcomes studies, best practices, and analysis of new educational methods advances the field by building a foundation for evidence-based practice that optimizes the application of the data and shares trends over time.
What could CME professionals do to avoid the situation described in this case?
Overstreet: Providers who want to publish or present their data would be wise to have an oversight committee and policies to support and govern their efforts.
Parochka: Everyone who meets authorship criteria for a manuscript, abstract, or poster needs to carefully review and sign off on the content. After all, their names will appear on the publication and their professional reputation may be affected by how the content is received.
Overstreet: And it would be prudent to include in partnership/joint sponsorship agreements language that describes who “owns” the educational methods and data generated, as well as who has the rights for publication or presentation and under what conditions.
Karen Overstreet, EdD, RPh, FACME, CCMEP, is executive director, instructional design and outcomes with Medscape Education, Blue Bell, Pa. Reach her at KOverstreet@medscape.net.
Jacqueline Parochka, EdD, FACME, is president and CEO, Excellence in Continuing
Education Ltd., Gurnee, Ill.; and partner, PTR Educational Consultants. Reach her at JacquelineParochka@comcast.net.
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