#KeyLIMEPodcast 313: A love letter to positivism

This commentary outlines the 6 factors that endanger the replicability of medical education research: Linda calls it a must read for all #meded researchers!

Click here to listen to her discuss it with her co-hosts. 


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Hope, Dewar, Hay. Is there a Replication Crisis in Medical Education Research? Acad Med.  2021 Mar 16: Published Ahead of Print.


Linda Snell (@LindaSMedEd)


In fields ranging from cancer therapy to psychology only 15-35% of sometimes ‘landmark studies’ could be replicated.

Medical education research is important: it  contributes to policy and influences practitioner behavior. As in other fields, if findings cannot be replicated it suggest the original research was not credible, and may lead to unhelpful or even harmful changes to medical education.

But what if you were told that up to half the results of studies in med ed could not be reproduced? The implications are scary – we teach, students learn, they apply it in practice, and there are patient outcomes.


The authors “consider a major threat to the integrity of research in many fields, explain and provide examples of the risk it poses to medical education, and offer practical advice, again with examples, on what medical educators and clinicians can do about it.”

Key Points on the Methods

None, this is a commentary.

Key Outcomes

6 factors that endanger the replicability of medical education research:

  1. small sample sizes, not represented, underpowered
  2. small effect sizes, statistical vs education significance
  3. exploratory designs, ‘data mining’
  4. flexibility in design choices, analysis strategy, and outcome measures, possibly chosen post-hoc
  5. conflicts of interest, lack of funding
  6. very active fields with many competing research teams, with pressure to publish early.

Therefore it is plausible that MER is experiencing a replication crisis.

Key Conclusions

The authors conclude… research opportunities to study interventions involving the development of AE. Gaps in the development and validation of measurement tools.

Spare Keys – other take home points for clinician educators

All researchers in med ed should read this!

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