Summary: In this latest edition of Harden's Blog, Professor Harden updates us on his latest travel adventures, the latest in the preparation for AMEE 2016 and an example of worrying practice in publishing. Description: If you read no other paper this week you should look at the personal view Learning from the gobiid by Benjamin Walpole, University of Washington, Department of Medicine (Medical Teacher, 2016, 38: 419-420). In my recent presentation on cultural competency at IMEC in Kuala Lumpur I focussed not simply on ethnicity and religions but also the different cultures within the professions in medicine. In this personal view Benjamin highlights the distrust and disparagement that sometimes exist between colleagues. The gobiid certainly teaches us a lesson. I will not spoil his story by giving the answer.

I am just back from Lisbon where I had the honour of making a presentation at the new Departmento de Educação Médica. My theme for my morning presentation was that the teacher is key to the success of an educational programme. I found the afternoon session particularly stimulating. Madalena Patricio had invited fourteen teachers in the medical school to each prepare two slides. The first to highlight what they saw as the important strengths of their teaching programme and the second to identify the problems they were facing. Each member of staff introduced their two slides and I was asked to comment on the strengths and respond to the problems. This was a fascinating challenge. Some were unique to each department and some problems were common. A recurring theme was students not attending lectures. The question arose why this was so and should alternatives to attending lectures be encouraged? Was listening to a recording of the lecture or reading another students notes taken during the lecture acceptable? Should students be given some reward for attending and participating in a lecture in terms, for example, of their assessment? I was impressed by the interest of the staff and their commitment to education. It was a great visit to Lisbon marred only by a French air traffic controllers strike on the day of my return journey which disrupted my flight to Heathrow. Problems with French air space appears to be a recurring obstacle to travel and I see another strike was threatened for today.

As I indicated in my last blog we are in the final stages of preparing for the AMEE 2016 Conference in Barcelona. I spoke yesterday on the telephone with Graham Brown-Martin who is the plenary speaker in our opening session on the Sunday evening. From his wide experience in education I think he has some very valuable insights and some clear ideas as to how we can contribute as teachers to the students learning. He has also had a particular interest in innovation in education and overcoming obstacles and will discuss this in a small group session on the Monday morning.

Students contribute to the AMEE conference in many different ways and this is clear evidence of greater student engagement with education and students as partners in the process and not just consumers. More than 600 students from around the world applied this year to join the student taskforce and the difficult job of selection and the arrangements have been undertaken by the International Federation for Medical Students Association and the European Medical Student Association.

As I mentioned previously we had many more submissions for the meeting than we could accept either because of time or space. About 900 posters were accepted and our task today and over the weekend is to make the final allocation of these to sessions with each session telling a story and covering an aspect of medical education. We get very positive feedback with regard to the poster sessions and in some ways I think they are more important than the short communications. Each poster author does get a chance, albeit briefly, to present their poster and it is available to all of the conference participants throughout the meeting.

Reviewing the manuscripts submitted for Medical Teacher I saw one example of a worrying practice this last week. As it happened one of the referees who has been asked to review a paper had already seen the paper when it had been submitted to another journal. The paper had been subsequently modified. One would hope that any modifications to a paper after a rejection would be to improve the quality of the study and its reporting. Instead in this case the priority appeared to be an attempt to increase the likelihood of the paper being accepted. Deficiencies in the original paper had been hidden by the removal of some of the data initially presented. There is no information as to how often this sort of malpractice occurs and unfortunately we have no way of checking but I hope it is a rare occurrence. Should journals communicate about papers submitted? I think probably not.

I leave next week for the International Association of Medical Science Educators (IAMSE) in Leiden where we are running an ESME course with Adi Haramati. We will also be promoting AMEE. Some thoughts about the meeting in my next blog.