Data repositories for medical education research: issues and recommendations

Acad Med. 2010 May;85(5):837-43. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181d74562.


The authors explore issues surrounding digital repositories with the twofold intention of clarifying their creation, structure, content, and use, and considering the implementation of a global digital repository for medical education research data sets-an online site where medical education researchers would be encouraged to deposit their data in order to facilitate the reuse and reanalysis of the data by other researchers. By motivating data sharing and reuse, investigators, medical schools, and other stakeholders might see substantial benefits to their own endeavors and to the progress of the field of medical education.The authors review digital repositories in medicine, social sciences, and education, describe the contents and scope of repositories, and present extant examples. The authors describe the potential benefits of a medical education data repository and report results of a survey of the Society for Directors of Research in Medicine Education, in which participants responded to questions about data sharing and a potential data repository. Respondents strongly endorsed data sharing, with the caveat that principal investigators should choose whether or not to share data they collect. A large majority believed that a repository would benefit their unit and the field of medical education. Few reported using existing repositories. Finally, the authors consider challenges to the establishment of such a repository, including taxonomic organization, intellectual property concerns, human subjects protection, technological infrastructure, and evaluation standards. The authors conclude with recommendations for how a medical education data repository could be successfully developed.

MeSH terms

  • Classification
  • Databases, Factual*
  • Education
  • Humans
  • Information Storage and Retrieval
  • Intellectual Property
  • Medicine
  • Needs Assessment
  • Research*
  • Social Sciences
  • Software