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Publications in Academic Medical Centers: Technology-Facilitated Culture Clash

Berner, Eta S. EdD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000216

Academic culture has a set of norms, expectations, and values that are sometimes tacit and sometimes very explicit. In medical school and other health professions educational settings, probably the most common norm includes placing a high value on peer-reviewed research publications, which are seen as the major evidence of scholarly productivity. Other features of academic culture include encouraging junior faculty and graduate students to share their research results at professional conferences and lecturing with slides as a major way to convey information. Major values that faculty share with journal editors include responsible conduct of research and proper attribution of others’ words and ideas. Medical school faculty also value technology and are often quick to embrace technological advances that can assist them in their teaching and research. This article addresses the effects of technology on three aspects of academic culture: education, presentations at professional meetings, and research publications.

The technologies discussed include online instruction, dissemination of conference proceedings on the Internet, plagiarism-detection software, and new technologies deployed by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the home of PubMed. The author describes how the ease of deploying new technologies without faculty changing their norms and behavior in the areas of teaching and research can lead to conflicts of values among key stakeholders in the academic medical community, including faculty, journal editors, and professional associations. The implications of these conflicts and strategies for managing them are discussed.

Dr. Berner is professor, Department of Health Services Administration, School of Health Professions, and professor, Department of Medical Education, School of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama.

Funding/Support: None reported.

Other disclosures: None reported.

Ethical approval: Reported as not applicable.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Berner, 1705 University Blvd. #590J, Birmingham, AL 35294-1212; telephone: (205) 975-8219; fax: (205) 975-6608; e-mail:

© 2014 by the Association of American Medical Colleges