Tag Archives: openphysio

OpenPhysio podcast: Considering the precariat

Earlier this month I finally managed to publish an episode of the OpenPhysio podcast that’s been on my to-do list for about a year. I’ve been wanting to get the journal podcast series up and running for a while but for various reasons I haven’t been able to work on it as regularly as I’d like to. Even this episode, which we recorded in 2021, took me forever to edit and post.

However, I think the final product is nonetheless an interesting discussion around an important topic, which is covered further in the related article: Cleaver, S., Mohapratra, S. & Simard, M. (2021). Contagious precarity: A collective biographical analysis of early-career physiotherapist academics’ experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic. OpenPhysio.

Thank you to Shaun, Sidhi, and Mathieu for agreeing to record our conversation, and for their patience around the long delay in getting it published.

In this episode I speak with Shaun Cleaver, Sidhiprada Mohapratra, and Mathieu Simard, about their article describing their experiences as early-career academics affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown. As part of the review process there were significant pieces of the article that the reviewers asked to be removed as they were not central to the main thrust of the work. I thought the sections that came out were nonetheless important to consider and so asked the three authors if we could talk about those aspects of their work that didn’t make it into the final publication.

Rowe, M., Cleaver, S., Mohapratra, S., & Simard, M. (2022). Considering the precariat. OpenPhysio podcast.

Why shouldn’t journals publish translations of articles alongside the English version?

Update (14 April 2022): If you’re interested in the notion that something is lost when we default to English as the language of scientific communication, you may be interested in this reflective podcast by Shaun Cleaver that was prepared as part of the 2020 In beta unconference.

A few days ago I received a submission to OpenPhysio from someone who was clearly a non-English first language speaker. After a few rounds of email to make sure I understood the general structure and claims of the article, I decided that we’d go ahead and work together to tidy it up a bit, before sending it out for peer review. I know that reviewers can sometimes take on an editorial role as part of the process and wanted to make sure that the central ideas were clear.

However, it occurred to me that this may also be an opportunity to offer the author the option of preparing a translation of the article in their home language, to be published alongside the ‘original’ i.e. the English version. Authors go to a lot of effort to translate their work into English, which has this weird side-effect of closing it off to a population of non-English speakers, who may nonetheless have benefitted from reading it. I can only see upsides to this practice and almost no disadvantages, other than it adding a bit more work to the publishing process. And of course, authors would have to agree to take on the translation themselves (I’m talking from the context of a fee-free journal, like OpenPhysio, that wouldn’t be able to pay for this service).

There are no technical limitations that would prevent this. Making a second version of the article available is as simple as providing a link to the file. To start with, we could even say that the translation will be available as a ‘stripped back’ version, with no formatting and design i.e. it could simply be a PDF with the the original citation that points back to the canonical (English) version. Of course, the author can do this anyway but I think that making it available alongside the original would add some ‘credibility’ to the translation. This first iteration would just be a proof of concept. You can imagine that, over time, you could have it available in HTML (to help with discoverability), and also assign a DOI to the translated version to differentiate it from the canonical version. And you’d need to have a translator verify that the articles are the same.

I can’t think of any reasons for why we shouldn’t do this.

Publishing essays as scholarly work

A few days ago the OpenPhysio journal published a collection of speculative fiction essays, called Physiopunk, written by first-year physiotherapy students at UiT The Arctic University of Norway. The project was an initiative of Filip Maric and colleagues in the department, and is an attempt to help students think creatively about the kinds of futures we may arrive at in the profession.

Speculative fiction is a literary genre that often has a focus on possible futures.

The concept, in its broadest sense, captures both a conscious and unconscious aspect of human psychology in making sense of the world, and responds to it by creating imaginative, inventive, and artistic expressions. Such expressions can contribute to practical societal progress through interpersonal influences, social and cultural movements, scientific research and advances, and the philosophy of science.

Urbanski, H. (2007, p. 127). Plagues, apocalypses and bug-eyed monsters: how speculative fiction shows us our nightmares.

Through the choice of speculative fiction rather than a more conventional approach to undergraduate essays, Filip and his colleagues opened up a space where students were set free from the more rigid boundaries of traditional assessment tasks. They were able to explore creative, inspiring, and hope-ful narratives of a physiotherapy practice that’s far removed from our current conception of what and where the future of the profession lies. For that alone, it is remarkable.

However, the project has gone further for me and helped to think more carefully about what ‘counts’ as scholarship. In the past I’ve wondered if and how podcasts might be incorporated into the corpus of scholarly works but I’d never thought about the role that essays could play.

Scholarship (as proposed by Boyer, 1990) has four separate but overlapping meanings:

  1. The scholarship of discovery (research): original research or the search for new knowledge.
  2. The scholarship of integration: putting isolated facts into context.
  3. The scholarship of application or engagement (service): goes beyond the service duties of a faculty member to those within or outside the University and involves the rigour and application of disciplinary expertise with results that can be shared with and/or evaluated by peers.
  4. The scholarship of teaching: involves the systematic study of teaching and learning processes.

Traditionally academic journals have focused almost entirely on only the first of Boyer’s frames for scholarship i.e the scholarship of discovery; we publish – and privilege – peer-reviewed original research. While this form (and format) of scholarship is an essential part of the scientific method, I’ve also come to think of it as the “sterile uniformity of journal formats” (Carrigan, 2021). In order to standardise knowledge production we’ve converged on a specific type of publication which, ironically, is poorly optimised for general understanding.

As Sarah Kember has noted:

We need to make contact with a sense of writing as something that evades and exceeds the possibility of measurement.

Kember, S. (2016). Why publish? Learned Publishing, 29(S1), 348–353. https://doi.org/10/gnqs98.

I’m not suggesting that we place reflective essays in the same category as RCTs, but I do think that they provide spaces for us to explore ideas and practices that don’t yet exist. And for that reason alone, I think that well-designed essays should be incorporated into the corpus of scholarly works.

I see this project by Filip and colleagues as a first tentative step by the OpenPhysio journal as a reflection on the “sterile uniformity” of traditional publication, and to integrate a form of scholarship that actively seeks to “evade the possibility of measurement”.

Exciting times.


high angle photography of seashore

Weekly digest (24-28 May 2021)

Ads in academic journals?

Recently I had to disable my ad-blocking extensions to troubleshoot a problem I’m having with a service and I forgot to turn them back on. So I was surprised to visit a journal website and see the number of ads displayed down the side. As if journals don’t make enough money already, now they have to advertise to us as well? Do I really need Taylor & Francis asking if I need to “increase my brand exposure”? WTF is this? I promise that you will never see ads on OpenPhysio.


Hypothes.is notebook preview. Hypothes.is.

As of March 2021, the Notebook enables users to: See all annotations in the current group (the group selected in the groups dropdown at the top left of the Hypothesis sidebar) in reverse chronological order; See all annotations created by one user; Page through results; Reply to annotations and edit their own annotations.

I’ve been using Hypothes.is for public, social annotation on and off for a few years, before starting to use it more seriously about a year ago (you can see my annotations here). This new feature enables you to see all of the annotations and responses within a group in the same place. Even though the feature was developed for use in an LMS it’s really simple to use it for classroom groups and is a great way to get an overview of what all students have highlighted and commented on. Hypothesis itself has a few limitations that really bug me (e.g. no integration with Zotero, and no simple way to get annotations out of the system) but it’s open source and is a really elegant solution to adding an annotation layer on top of the open web. It’s not a stretch to say that I love it. If you’re not familiar with social annotation you can read more on the Hypothes.is about page.


Map of the internet (2021). Halcyon maps.

Compared to any previous iteration of the Map of the Internet, this new version is many times more detailed and informative. It includes several thousand of some of the most popular websites, represented as distinct “countries”, which are grouped together with others of similar type or category, forming dozens of distinct clusters, regions and continents that stretch throughout the map, such as “news sites”, “search engines”, “social networks”, “e-commerce”, “adult entertainment”, “file sharing”, “software companies” and so much more. In the center of it all can be found ISPs and web browsers, which form the core and backbone of the internet as we know it, while the far south is the domain of the mysterious “dark web”.

This is just one of the many maps of the internet that you can explore now. What I like about this one is that it’s more of an artistic expression than a technical visualisation of the actual network. Have a look at this when you have some time to spend on it. Click here for the high-res version.


Heaven, W. D. (2020, June 4). This startup is using AI to give workers a “productivity score.” MIT Technology Review.

…one firm wants to take things even further. It is developing machine-learning software to measure how quickly employees complete different tasks and suggest ways to speed them up. The tool also gives each person a productivity score, which managers can use to identify those employees who are most worth retaining—and those who are not. Critics argue that workplace surveillance undermines trust and damages morale. Workers’ rights groups say that such systems should only be installed after consulting employees. “It can create a massive power imbalance between workers and the management. And the workers have less ability to hold management to account.”

How do you feel about the paragraph above? How does it make you feel as an academic and employee? If you doubt that this is coming, did you know that Microsoft is building this into it’s services? Do you use Microsoft products? Hold onto that thought. Now, read the paragraph again, replacing “employees”/”workers” with “students, and “management” with “lecturers”. The trend in learning analytics seems to be the conflation of “productivity” with “learning” and I worry that this is what we’re doing to our students when we use online tools in certain ways (I’m not even talking about proctoring of online assessment). We’re undermining trust and damaging morale. We can do better.


Granato, E. (2021). Peer reviewer alignment matrix. Shared via Twitter.

I like to think that I’m lawful neutral.

purple leaf

Weekly digest (07 May 2021)

This is an experiment that I’m going to try for a while. Sometimes I come across articles that I think are interesting and would like to share – with a short comment – but which don’t warrant a full post. I’m going to try and aggregate these into a weekly digest that I’ll publish on a Friday. In the past I would have pushed these out to Twitter but I’m trying to bring more of my work into my own site instead. We’ll see how it goes.


O’Grady, C. (2021). Fifteen journals to outsource peer-review decisions. Science. Retrieved May 6, 2021, from http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.abj0447

Some scholarly publishers have already outsourced operations like copy editing and printing. Now, 15 journals are outsourcing something central to science itself: the peer-review process. The journals, which include BMJ Open Science and Royal Society Open Science, say they will accept articles reviewed by a nonprofit “peer community” organization.

Now that journals are starting to outsource peer review, how on earth will they justify the cost of publishing with them? At OpenPhysio we charge nothing. Not a cent for authors or for readers. Granted, OpenPhysio is a very small journal with a different vision for academic publishing but that actually makes it harder to do the work.

On a related note, I have an article coming out soon with Physiotherapy Theory and Practice, which we had hoped to publish under an open access license. The cost: $3000! We should have looked into the details before submitting but none of us thought it would be this much. Something has to change.


Harada, J. (2021, May 4). The Instagram ads Facebook won’t show you. Signal Messenger. https://signal.org/blog/the-instagram-ads-you-will-never-see/

Companies like Facebook aren’t building technology for you, they’re building technology for your data.

Facebook is more than willing to sell visibility into people’s lives, unless it’s to tell people about how their data is being used. Being transparent about how ads use people’s data is apparently enough to get banned; in Facebook’s world, the only acceptable usage is to hide what you’re doing from your audience.

This is such a great example of a subversive activity, albeit one that Facebook quickly saw and banned. Facebook sees you as an input into their advertising algorithms, and there’s not much more to say about it.


Young, S. (2021, April 26). Should You Use Flashcards to Learn? Scott H Young. https://www.scotthyoung.com/blog/2021/04/26/do-flashcards-work/

If you want to learn a topic with a lot of stuff to memorize, flashcards will help you do it better than almost anything else. Mnemonics are trendy, but for medium-to-long-term purposes, flashcards are probably better. It’s also easy to waste your time with flashcards. You can spend a lot of time memorizing something you don’t need to, or fail to memorize the important things you do. Flashcard practice can also be a convenient way to avoid doing the real thing you need to learn.

Nice, short piece about when you should consider using flashcards for your learning, and when they should probably be avoided. It also starts with a short description of how flashcards are linked to memory via spaced repetition practice.


Beighton, F. (2021, April 25). DM168 Reflection: Things that we should find in the ashes: Love Thy Library. Daily Maverick. https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2021-04-25-things-that-we-should-find-in-the-ashes-love-thy-library/

Libraries, by their nature, are sanctuaries. They are designed to feel like safe spaces should feel; orderly, calm, a refuge from the noise and madness of the world, where you’re invited to slow down, to be quiet and to feed your mind.

Last month (18-21 April) Cape Town experienced one of it’s worst wildfires in a decade. Luckily no-one was killed, but the Jagger Reading Room in the library at the University of Cape Town was destroyed. I love books and I love libraries, so this felt like a deep loss, not only for scholars and students at UCT but for humanity. It may have also felt more significant because I’m reading Rebecca Knuth’s Burning Books and Leveling Libraries: Extremist Violence and Cultural Destruction. I liked the idea that the author suggests…looking at libraries as more than repositories of content from the past and are connected to the future:

Libraries need to move from the transactional – get your library card, borrow a book, return it late, pay your fee – to the membership model, in which they are the central hub of community, a cornerstone of democracy, thought leadership, social change and connection.


Call for papers – Towards a new normal in physiotherapy education

By responding to this global disruption, we are placed in a situation where we are having to rethink our approaches to physiotherapy education. All over the world physiotherapy educators are engaged in what is possibly the most extensive programme of pedagogical change in our professional history. We see colleagues responding with creativity, empathy and flexibility, creating a unique opportunity for us to capture and share what may be a series of transformative changes in physiotherapy education at a global scale.

I’m excited to announce that OpenPhysio has put out a call for papers aimed at learning how colleagues from around the world are responding to the changes they’re currently experiencing within their professional programmes. We’re interested in the changes currently underway that have the potential to transform physiotherapy education, both in the short- and long-terms.

Submissions should be short (1500-2000 words) research reports or notes with a clear problem, a maximum of 3-5 citations, early findings (even if only in the form of observations), and provide a single focused recommendation.

You can find out more about the call on the OpenPhysio website.

#APAperADay: Twelve tips for getting your manuscript published.

Cook, D. A. (2016). Twelve tips for getting your manuscript published. Medical Teacher, 38(1), 41–50.


I went through this article to present it for discussion at our departmental journal club meeting last week. It’s a useful review paper for anyone interested in academic publishing, especially novice authors who may not have much experience preparing manuscripts for submission.


Getting the manuscript ready

1. Plan early to get it out the door. Write regularly – even if it’s for shorter periods – because it’s hard to find large blocks of time, which means that you don’t write very often. Set clear, concrete goals because otherwise you end up doing lots of reading and editing but don’t put words on the page. Refine in stages, perhaps initially using a rough outline where the argument can be presented and seen all at once, before expanding points into sentences, then paragraphs, and finally into sections.

2. Address authorship and writing group expectations up front. Deciding the order and contributions of each author is important to do early on in the process. See the ICMJE guidelines on defining the role of authors. The main point to take away is that, in order to be listed as an author, an intellectual contribution to the paper (which is different to the project) is necessary.

3. Maintain control of the writing. There needs to be one person who drives the process and ensures that editing of the manuscript is controlled. The author suggests having one master document that only they have access to, with other authors submitting changes on separate documents. This might be less important with the version control and change tracking that’s built into current collaborative writing platforms e.g. Google Docs.

4. Ensure complete reporting. Find out what reporting guidelines exist for your specific type of study design e.g. SR, RCT, qualitative research, etc. Note that the title can be thought of as part of the reporting something to the reader; t’s the one thing that every reader will actually read. The introduction provides context, a conceptual framework, literature review, problem statement and then the question or aim. The Discussion should be focused and informative, leaving out what is not really necessary. It might follow this structure: summary, limitations, integration with prior work, implications for practice or research.

5. Use electronic reference management software. You can do this manually but, after the initial setup of your resource library, using management software is far more efficient. There are two additional reasons to use software; citations can be reformatted into different styles, new citations can be inserted without having to renumber everything else. Don’t capture sources into your library by hand as this can introduce errors; use the software to import from PubMed and journals directly. Mendeley is popular, as is Endnote. I use Zotero, which is an excellent open source programme.

6. Polish carefully before you submit. Make sure that there are as few spelling, grammatical, typographical, punctuation and style errors as possible in the manuscript before you submit. It’s important to be consistent in your editing across all of the above e.g. UK vs US English, different heading styles for first level headings, inconsistent citation formatting, etc. will all suggest to the Editor that you’re not paying attention to the small things.

7. Select the right journal. Who will be reading the journal? There’s no point aiming for a high impact journal if their audience won’t be interested in your work. Review the journal aim and scope, instructions for authors, or even contact the Editor and ask if they think that your topic and question would be of interest to the journal’s audience. Try to evaluate your own work objectively, possibly by comparing it to a few papers from the journal you’re aiming for, and ask if it would fit alongside those articles. All metrics used to evaluate the “quality” of a journal are flawed.

8. Follow journal instructions precisely. Editors may desk reject (i.e. not even send out for review) articles where authors have disregarded the instructions. There are often a variety of other items that need to accompany the article e.g. cover letter (topic, aim, implications), disclosures, conflict of interest statements, authorship, possible reviewers, funding, and ethics clearance. It can take surprisingly long to gather this additional information.

When you are rejected (and you will be rejected)

9. Get it back out the door quickly. There’s no value in delaying it because your feelings are hurt. Try to remember that everyone gets rejected. It may be helpful to have a list of other journals you will submit to if the article is rejected. It is not helpful to argue with the Editor.

10. Take seriously all reviewer and editor suggestions. Even though you are obviously not required to use the feedback, you should at least pay it some attention. The author suggests a rubric for deciding what comments to pay attention to: essential, high-yield, easy and useful, other.

When you are invited to revise and resubmit

It’s unlikely that you will ever have an article accepted without having to make any changes.

11. Respond carefully to every suggestion, even if you disagree. I agree with the first part of this, “respond carefully”. However, the second part seems to suggest that you should make the suggested changes, even if you disagree. The author even says that the “reviewers are always right”. I disagree and will almost always stand my ground on points that I feel don’t need to be changed. I’ll sometimes spend 2-3 times longer arguing for why the change shouldn’t be made, than it would’ve taken to just edit the text. However, I will clarify the writing to ensure that other readers don’t make the same mistake that the reviewer made. You do need to respond to every comment though, ensuring that you’re respectful in your responses. Whatever you think of the actual feedback, someone has taken the time to read and comment on your work. Make sure that you follow the journal instructions for how to edit and resubmit your article.

12. Get input from others as you revise. It’s especially useful to have someone else go over your response to the reviewers. It may also be useful to contact the Editor directly; they have asked you to resubmit so obviously think that your work has merit.

9 (revisited). Get it back out the door quickly. When asked to resubmit, unless the reviewers are suggesting major changes, it might be worthwhile dropping everything else and focusing on making the changes.

There is a little more than a page devoted entirely to a series of tips for effective tables and figures (pg. 5-6).

Table 3 (pg. 8-9) includes examples of different kinds of reviewer comments, with appropriate responses.


Note: I’m the Editor at OpenPhysio, an open-access, peer-reviewed online journal with a focus on physiotherapy education. If you’re doing interesting work in the classroom, even if you have no experience in publishing educational research, we’d like to help you share your stories.

#APaperADay – Conceptual frameworks to illuminate and magnify

Bordage, G. (2009). Conceptual frameworks to illuminate and magnify. Medical Education, 43(4), 312–319. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2923.2009.03295.x

Conceptual frameworks represent ways of thinking about a problem or a study, or ways of representing how complex things work the way they do.


A nice position paper that emphasises the value of conceptual frameworks as a tool for thinking, not only more deeply about problems, but more broadly, through the use of multiple frameworks applied to different aspects of the problem. The author uses three examples to develop a set of 13 key points related to the use of conceptual frameworks in education and research. The article is useful for anyone interested in developing a deeper approach to project design and educational research.

Frameworks inform the way we think and the decisions we make. The same task – viewed through different frameworks – will likely have different ways of thinking associated with it.

Frameworks come from:

  • Theories that have been confirmed experimentally;
  • Models derived from theories or observations;
  • Evidence-based practices.

We can combine frameworks in order for our activities to be more holistic. Educational problems can be framed with multiple frameworks, each providing different points of view and leading to different conclusions/solutions.

Like a lighthouse that illuminates only certain sections of the complete field of view, conceptual frameworks also provide only partial views of reality. In other words, there is no “correct” or all-encompassing framework for any given problem. Using a framework only enables us to illuminate and magnify one aspect of a problem, necessarily leaving others in the dark. When we start working on a problem without identifying our frameworks and assumptions (can also be thought of as identifying our biases) we limit the range of possible solutions.

Authors of medical education studies tend not explicitly identify their biases and frameworks.

The author goes on to provide three examples of how conceptual frameworks can be used to frame various educational problems (2 in medical education projects, 1 in research). Each example is followed by key points (13 in total). In each of the examples, the author describes possible pathways through the problem in order to develop different solutions, each informed by different frameworks.

Key points (these points make more sense after working through the examples):

  1. Frameworks can help us to differentiate problems from symptoms by looking at the problem from broader, more comprehensive perspectives. They help us to understand the problem more deeply.
  2. Having an awareness of a variety of a conceptual frameworks makes it more likely that our possible solutions will be wide-ranging because the frameworks emphasise different aspects of the problem and potential solution.
  3. Because each framework is inherently limited, a variety of frameworks can provide more ways to identify the important variables and their interactions/relationships. It is likely that more than one framework is relevant to the situation.
  4. We can use different frameworks within the same problem to analyse different aspects of the problem e.g. one for the problem and one for the solution.
  5. Conceptual frameworks can come from theories, models or evidence-based practices.
  6. Scholars need to apply the principles outlined in the conceptual framework(s) selected.
  7. Conceptual frameworks help identify important variables and their potential relationships; this also means that some variables are disregarded.
  8. Conceptual frameworks are dynamic entities and benefit from being challenged and altered as needed.
  9. Conceptual frameworks allow scholars to build upon one another’s work and allow individuals to develop programmes of research. When researchers don’t use frameworks, there’s an increased chance that the “findings may be superficial and non-cumulative.”
  10. Programmatic, conceptually-based research helps accumulate deeper understanding over time and thus moves the field forward.
  11. Relevant conceptual frameworks can be found outside one’s specialty or field. Medical education scholars shouldn’t expect that all relevant frameworks can be found in the medical education literature.
  12. Considering competing conceptual frameworks can maximise your chances of selecting the most appropriate framework for your problem or situation while guarding against premature, inappropriate or sub-optimal choices.
  13. Scholars are responsible for making explicit in their publications the assumptions and principles contained in the conceptual framework(s) they use.

The third example seems (to me) to be an unnecessarily long diversion into the author’s own research. And while the first two examples are quite practical and relevant, the third is quite abstract, possibly because of the focus on educational research and study design. I wonder how many readers will find relevance in it.

In a research context, conceptual frameworks can help to both frame or formulate the initial questions, identify variables for analysis, and interpret results.

The conclusion of the paper is very nice summary of the main ideas. However, it also introduces some new ideas, which probably should have been included in the main text.

Conceptual frameworks provide different lenses for looking at, and thinking about, problems and conceptualising solutions. Using a variety of frameworks, we open ourselves up to different solutions and potentially avoid falling victim to our own assumptions and biases.

It’s important to remember that frameworks magnify and illuminate only certain aspects of each problem, leaving other aspects in the dark i.e. there is no single framework that does everything.

Novice educators and researchers may find it daunting to work with frameworks, especially when you consider that they may not be aware of the range of possible frameworks.

How do you choose one framework over another? It’s important to discuss your problem and potential solutions with more experienced colleagues and experts in the field. Remember however, that some experts may be experts partly because they’ve spent a long time committed to a framework/way of seeing the world, which may make it difficult for them to give you an unbiased perspective.

Reviewing the relevant literature also helps to identify what frameworks other educators have used in addressing similar problems. The specific question you’re asking is also an important means of identifying a relevant framework.


Note: I’m the Editor at OpenPhysio, an open-access, peer-reviewed online journal with a focus on physiotherapy education. If you’re doing interesting work in the classroom, even if you have no experience in publishing educational research, we’d like to help you share your stories.

#APaperADay – It’s Time for Medical Schools to Introduce Climate Change Into Their Curricula

This is my first attempt to share a short summary of a paper that I’ve read as part of my #APaperADay project, where I try to put aside the last 30-60 minutes of every day for reading and summarising an article. Obviously, I’m not going to be able to finish an article a day so these won’t be daily posts.

Also, paper selection is likely to be arbitrary. This isn’t an attempt to find “the best” or “most interesting” articles. It’s probably just me going through my reading list and choosing something based on how much time I have left in the day.

I’m going to try and make these summaries short and may also start adding my own commentary within the main text as part of an attempt to engage more deeply with the subject. Please don’t assume that my summaries are 1) accurate representations of the actual content, 2) substitutes for reading the original, 3) appropriate sources of knowledge in their own right.


Citation: Wellbery, C., Sheffield, P., Timmireddy, K., Sarfaty, M., Teherani, A., & Fallar, R. (2018). It’s Time for Medical Schools to Introduce Climate Change Into Their Curricula. Academic Medicine, 93(12), 1774–1777. https://doi.org/10.1097/ACM.0000000000002368

This is a position piece that begins by describing the impact of human beings on the planet (the Anthropocene).

The effects of climate change will disproportionately affect the most vulnerable populations (the very old and very young, those who are sick, and whose who are poor).

Current efforts in HPE policy have been directed towards preparing health professionals to help address the effects of climate change. However, medical school curricula have not made much headway in updating their curricula to explicitly include this new content.

Rationale for including climate change in medical education

  1. Today’s generation of HP students are those who have a large stake in developing a strategic response.
  2. The health effects of climate change and getting worse and HP will need to be adequately prepared to meet with challenge.
  3. It is everyone’s responsibility to drive efforts at reducing the environmental footprint of healthcare, which is a non-trivial contributor to global warming.
  4. Climate change will disproportionately affect the most vulnerable populations, who HP are obliged to help.
  5. The inclusion of climate change will facilitate the development of thinking skills that are (hopefully) transferable to other aspects of the curriculum.

Current curricular interventions

There needs to be a rethinking of the division between public and individual health. Climate change will increasingly affect the environment, which will increasingly affect people. These complex interactions among complex variables will affect political, social, scientific, and economic domains, all of which are currently beyond the scope of medical education.

Climate change as a topic of discussion can be relatively easily integrated into medical curricula, alongside already existing conditions. For example, a discussion on asthma could include the negative effect of global warming on this particular condition. In other words, climate change need not be included as a separate module/subject/topic but could be integrated with the current curriculum.

“Climate-relevant examples and the overarching macrocosmic mechanisms linking them to individual disease processes could broaden discussions of such topics as cardiovascular health (related to changing air quality), sexually transmitted infections (related to displaced populations), and mental health disorders (related both to displaced populations and also to extreme weather).”

The article finishes with a few examples of how some medical schools have incorporated climate change into their curricula. It seems likely that this is something that will need to happen over time i.e. programmes can’t simply dump a load of “global warming/climate change” content into the curriculum overnight.

Comment: This is a short paper that might be interesting for someone who’d like to know why climate change should be a topic of interest in health professions education. Even if this is something that you’re only passingly familiar with, you’re probably not going to get much from it. But it may be useful to pass on to someone who thinks that climate change isn’t relevant in a health professions curriculum.


Note: I’m the Editor at OpenPhysio, an open-access, peer-reviewed online journal with a focus on physiotherapy education. If you’re doing interesting work in the classroom, even if you have no experience in publishing educational research, we’d like to help you share your stories.

Article: Predatory journals: No definition, no defense.

Everyone agrees that predatory publishers sow confusion, promote shoddy scholarship and waste resources. What is needed is consensus on a definition of predatory journals. This would provide a reference point for research into their prevalence and influence, and would help in crafting coherent interventions.

Grudniewicz, A. (2019). Predatory journals: no definition, no defence. Nature, 576, 210-212, doi: 10.1038/d41586-019-03759-y.
There exist a variety of checklists to determine if a journal is widely recognised as being “predatory” but the challenge is that few lists are consistent and some are overlapping, which is not helpful for authors.

The consensus definition reached by the authors of the paper:

Predatory journals and publishers are entities that prioritize self-interest at the expense of scholarship and are characterized by false or misleading information, deviation from best editorial and publication practices, a lack of transparency, and/or the use of aggressive and indiscriminate solicitation practices.

Further details of the main concepts in the definition are included in the article.


Note: Some parts of this article were cross-posted at OpenPhysio, an open-access, peer-reviewed online journal with a focus on physiotherapy education. If you’re doing interesting work in the classroom, even if you have no experience in publishing educational research, we’d like to help you share your stories.