Summary: In his latest blog Professor Harden asks where are the developments in medical education coming from, what can be done about predatory journals and more. Description: Where are the developments in medical education taking place?
Fundamental changes took place in medical education in medical schools in the UK in the 1990s. Three factors contributed to this – new General Medical Council requirements, the publication by the UK University Funding Council of ratings of quality of teaching in each university and support by the Department of Health in the form of one full-time equivalent member of staff to facilitate change. The result was the wide adoption of imaginative integrated curricula with core and elective elements as a response to information overload and new approaches to teaching, learning and assessment with greater emphasis on assessment of clinical competence using approaches such as the OSCE. It was a number of years later before such approaches were accepted elsewhere in the world. I may be wrong but I think the focus and momentum for change now is different. While in the UK the emphasis appears to be on consolidating and refining the education process, we need to look elsewhere, particularly to the USA and Canada, to see really forward looking education programmes including the introduction of adaptive curricula, the shortening of the curriculum from four to three years and the introduction of an outcome-based approach where standards achieved rather than time is fixed. Some of these developments were facilitated by the American Medical Association Accelerating Change in Medical Education initiative. If you disagree please comment. The one exception may be an exciting revolutionary proposal for a new medical school in London led by Hilliard Jason of the iMedtrust, as featured in the Lancet.

Don’t get me wrong. There is much interesting and useful work being done in medical education in the UK which can be commended but, unlike in the 90s, I do not see forward looking ground-breaking initiatives as can be found in North America.

Predatory journals
I have referred in previous blogs to what has been described as predatory journals which look like genuine scholarly publishing programmes but are in most cases a scam where the author submits a paper which is published in return for payment. Bealls’s list of predatory journals was shut down earlier in the year but to fill the gap left Cabell’s International has stepped in, as highlighted in The Scholarly Kitchen blog of July 25th.

Anderson, R. 2017. Cabell’s New Predatory Journal Blacklist: A Review. The Scholarly Kitchen. Accessed on 25th July 2017 at

Three is the magic number
In his blog of 30 July 2017 Doug Belshaw highlights the article by Ameet Ranadive, a product manager at Twitter, and former consultant at McKinsey,

“Here’s one pro-tip that I learned from one of my mentors at McKinsey: The Rule of 3. Whenever you’re trying to persuade a senior person to do something, always present 3 reasons. Not 2, not 4, but exactly 3.

If I was asked by a senior exec, “Why should we do this?”, I was advised to respond with, “There are 3 reasons why we should do this” and then proceed to list my reasons in almost a numbered bullet point format (“First…”, “Second…” and “Last”).”

The author gives the reasons why, in the form of three reasons:
  1. Your argument gets their attention and is memorable
  2. You are forced to choose the 3 most important reasons
  3. You sound more structured, confident and decisive when you speak
Can we trust peer-reviewed papers?
This is the subject of a clip on YouTube arguing for the need for peer-review of papers published. It is an interesting but one-sided view of the subject, ignoring the reported failings of a peer-review system and equating peer-review with quality and traditional journals. It doesn’t distinguish open-access journals where there is a legitimate peer-review process, open-access journals where there is claim to be a peer-review process but which does not exist and open-access journals such as MedEdPublish ( where there is a post-publication peer-review process with the advantages that brings.

[potholer54]. 2017, Jul 16. Can we trust peer-reviewed papers? [Video File]. Accessed at