Did I Do the Right Thing? A New Workshop on Ethics in Publishing at #ACGME2024

December 19, 2023
Dr. Artino leads a workshop discussion at a past ACGME Annual Educational Conference.

The Journal of Graduate Medical Education (JGME) will present a new session at the 2024 ACGME Annual Educational Conference, designed for anyone interested in medical education scholarship. The workshop, Did I Do the Right Thing? Navigating Ethical Dilemmas in Scholarship and Authorship, was conceived by Deputy Editor Anthony Artino Jr., PhD, and will introduce some of the most common ethically challenging scholarship and authorship conundrums regularly faced by medical education scholars. Like most JGME workshops, it will also be highly interactive. Participants will have an opportunity to break into groups to discuss cases, which will include issues around gender, seniority, promotion and publication pressures, artificial intelligence (AI) use, and publishing variations of the same work.

Asked what inspired this workshop and the research that went into it, Dr. Artino says that, upsetting as they are, it wasn’t so much the blatant examples of research misconduct we hear about in the news that concerned him. “I’ve never observed that type of misconduct in my work,” he explains. “However, I have seen (and even done) some things that fall into what some have called questionable research practices (QRPs). In fact, back in 2017, my colleague and I had observed enough of these practices that we started to wonder about the medical education research community writ large. For example, we observed quite a few instances of gift or honorary authorship, where an author was added to an article without really contributing to the writing team. We had also witnessed a fair amount of salami slicing, which occurs when investigators turn what should really be one paper into multiple publications to get more ‘bang for their buck’ and otherwise grow their CVs.”

Having observed several questionable practices, in 2017, Dr. Artino and a colleague began a formal program of research centered on misconduct and other QRPs in the field of medical education, and in 2019 they conducted a study examining the self-reported prevalence of such practices. Some of the most reported QRPs were selectively citing articles just to please reviewers or editors, citing articles that were never read, inappropriately storing sensitive research data, and selectively citing one’s own work just to improve citation metrics. At the time, they had little idea how much more the landscape would change in unexpected ways. “The elephant in the room is clearly generative AI and systems like ChatGPT,” says Dr. Artino. “These have already begun to influence scholarly writing, with questions about authorship, intellectual property, and plagiarism coming to the forefront.” He recently co-authored a JGME editorial on AI, and his workshop will include some of the challenges AI may pose in the coming years.

Dr. Artino hopes that participants will walk away from the session knowing the best strategies for making ethical decisions during their scholarship and writing processes. “These decisions are often quite complex and can be somewhat difficult to solve, especially considering GME-specific factors like disparities in author authority and experience, the temporary nature of health care training, and the high-pressure ‘publish or perish’ demands of academia,” he acknowledges. “We’d like to help participants anticipate and preemptively tackle these issues before they blow up into larger problems. Ultimately, we believe that research teams function best when open, honest, and direct discussions occur early and often.”

Along with this new session, JGME will also be presenting one of its most popular workshops on creating visual media, Getting Started in Visual Media for Medical Education: Visual Abstracts and More. As the title suggests, no visual media experience is necessary. Participants can expect to learn basic principles and practical tips from JGME visual media editors, but they they should also be prepared to create. This will be a hands-on session designed to give beginners the confidence they need to get started.

Finally, JGME will once again have a booth at the ACGME Hub in the Exhibit Hall, where staff members and editors will be happy to connect in person and answer any questions. The journal team looks forward to seeing everyone in Orlando!

Registration is open for the Annual Educational Conference, and the Early Bird registration fee ends after December 20 – so don’t delay! Register and learn more about the conference, including session descriptions and other opportunities available, on the conference website.