Criteria for Social Media-Based Scholarship in Health Professions Education

Postgrad Med J. 2015 Oct;91(1080):551-5. doi: 10.1136/postgradmedj-2015-133300. Epub 2015 Aug 14.


Background: Social media are increasingly used in health professions education. How can innovations and research that incorporate social media applications be adjudicated as scholarship?

Objective: To define the criteria for social media-based scholarship in health professions education.

Method: In 2014 the International Conference on Residency Education hosted a consensus conference of health professions educators with expertise in social media. An expert working group drafted consensus statements based on a literature review. Draft consensus statements were posted on an open interactive online platform 2 weeks prior to the conference. In-person and virtual (via Twitter) participants modified, added or deleted draft consensus statements in an iterative fashion during a facilitated 2 h session. Final consensus statements were unanimously endorsed.

Results: A review of the literature demonstrated no existing criteria for social media-based scholarship. The consensus of 52 health professions educators from 20 organisations in four countries defined four key features of social media-based scholarship. It must (1) be original; (2) advance the field of health professions education by building on theory, research or best practice; (3) be archived and disseminated; and (4) provide the health professions education community with the ability to comment on and provide feedback in a transparent fashion that informs wider discussion.

Conclusions: Not all social media activities meet the standard of education scholarship. This paper clarifies the criteria, championing social media-based scholarship as a legitimate academic activity in health professions education.


Publication types

  • Review
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Curriculum
  • Education, Medical / standards
  • Education, Medical / trends*
  • Educational Measurement
  • Fellowships and Scholarships / organization & administration*
  • Fellowships and Scholarships / trends
  • Health Personnel / education*
  • Humans
  • Leadership
  • Social Media* / trends