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Bridging the Publication Gap for Upcoming Investigators

Adler, Mark MD; Calhoun, Aaron W. MD

doi: 10.1097/SIH.0000000000000325

From the Departments of Pediatrics and Medical Education (M.A.), Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL; and Department of Pediatrics (A.W.C.), University of Louisville School of Medicine, Louisville, KY.

Reprints: Aaron William Calhoun, MD, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY 40202 (e-mail:

As the field of simulation matures, there is an increasing need for mechanisms by which promising investigators can contribute to the growing body of scholarship.1 The traditional method by which this occurs involves the submission of conference abstracts, which typically represents an earlier phase of an author's work. The meeting presentation allows for dissemination and feedback in a collegial setting as well as networking opportunities with like-minded investigators. For our community, much of this activity takes place at the International Meeting for Simulation in Healthcare (IMSH).

The scholar's goal is to disseminate their work in a peer-reviewed journal. Making the transition from abstract to manuscript, however, is not guaranteed. A recent study published in Simulation in Healthcare noted that only 22% of abstracts accepted and presented at IMSH are eventually published in peer-reviewed journals.2 This study also described a significant difference in acceptance rate between Simulation in Healthcare (21%–23%) and IMSH (50%–70%).2 This large disparity raises questions as to the best way to promote the publication of research among abstract presenters. We sought a means to bridge this dissemination gap and assure that high-quality research submitted to and presented at IMSH is published in Simulation in Healthcare.

For guidance, we looked to a model that would be consistent with our goal and had a track record of success: the American Association of Medical Colleges' Research in Medical Education (RIME) program.3,4 This program involves the submission of short papers to the American Association of Medical Colleges Learn, Serve, Lead Conference that are simultaneously accepted for conference presentation and publication in Academic Medicine, providing a means of bridging the gap noted previously. We adapted this approach for IMSH 2018. The Scientific Content Committee created the Future Investigators in Research, Education, and Simulation (FIRES) program.

The inaugural FIRES submission process began in August of 2017. The committee chose a short research paper format with no more than three figures. A total of 20 papers were submitted. Each was then reviewed by the IMSH 2018 scientific chairs followed by editorial review by an associate editor and the Editor-in-Chief of Simulation in Healthcare. Three articles were chosen as best fitting the goals of the FIRES program and were subsequently presented at IMSH 2018.5–7 The final papers are published in this edition of the Journal. The remainder of this editorial highlights key aspects of each article and provides commentary from the FIRES selection committee regarding their value to the field.

Submission by Pepley et al5 describes the evaluation of a new process for the creation of high-fidelity materials for ultrasound simulation. Point-of-care ultrasound is fast becoming a standard of care imaging modality for many diagnostic and minimally invasive procedures, and there is a need for task trainers capable of simulating the appearance of actual human tissue under ultrasound.5,8,9 The authors address this need using a low-cost mixture of polyvinyl chloride, mineral oil, and chalk powder. They provide evidence of the procedural fidelity of this new material using force-feedback data and blinded comparisons between their new mixture, standard phantom mannequins, and human tissue. The results demonstrate that an affordable and readily reproducible mixture can be as effective as more expensive products. We chose this study because of its rigorous evaluation of a materials science development process. Simulation in Healthcare frequently published technical reports, and this study is an excellent example of how to design an assessment for a new technological development.

Wong et al6 address a different subject: agitation management in the emergency department. The authors used mixed qualitative and quantitative data derived from a larger study to explore the impact of a team-based standardized patient simulation on participant attitudes toward interprofessional education. Data saturation was achieved with seven focus groups, and the subsequent qualitative analyses yielded several themes, suggesting the intervention had a positive psychological impact on participants. These findings were corroborated by quantitative scoring data from the KidSIM ATTITUDES Questionnaire. We selected this work because it highlights the important contribution that rigorous qualitative and mixed methods approaches can make within our field.

Finally, Diederich et al7 reported on the relationship between pretesting data from simulation-based mastery learning courses and long-term participant performance. The study used a multivariate regression model to explore correlations between the pre, post, and 15- to 19-month delayed performance scores of participants in a central venous catheter insertion simulation-based mastery learning course. The results suggest that pretesting scores have a predictive effect on delayed postcurriculum performance. This information can be used by instructors to determine which participants may benefit from more frequent refresher training. We chose this work as an example of how careful research can find new value in frequently overlooked aspects of our instructional environments.

The three 2018 FIRES papers stand out as exemplars of the diverse and promising research being performed within the simulation community. Each work comes from a unique viewpoint, and each demonstrates different techniques and methods, yet all of them move the field forward and serve as foundations on which these investigators can build or advance their careers.

During this inaugural offering of the FIRES program, only three (15%) of the initial submissions were accepted. This is not unexpected and likely reflects both the relative novelty of FIRES within our community and the need for ongoing development of the IMSH research education program. Addressing this latter issue is a current focus of the Society for Simulation in Healthcare Research Committee, on which both authors serve. In addition to this, the overall structure of the FIRES process creates more linkage between the IMSH scientific program and Simulation in Healthcare than has existed in the past. This allows quality work to reach the journal that investigators might not otherwise have been inclined to submit, a possibility not captured by FIRES acceptance statistics. Together, these considerations provide substantial impetus for the continued development of the FIRES program.

We are excited that the FIRES call generated a large number of submissions and that the presentation at IMSH 2018 was well attended. We look forward to the continuation of the FIRES program and the new advances that will be showcased in the next group of submissions. The 2019 call for FIRES papers will soon be announced. It is our hope that this program will continue to thrive and that upcoming investigators within our community of practice will benefit from this opportunity to disseminate their work.

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1. Scerbo MW. Simulation in healthcare: growin' up. Simul Healthc 2016;11(4):232–235.
2. Cheng A, Lin Y, Smith J, Wan B, Belanger C, Hui J. Publication of abstracts presented at an international healthcare simulation conference. Simul Healthc 2017;12(4):207–212.
3. Association of American Medical Colleges. (2018). Call for Submissions: 2018 Research in Medical Education (RIME) Research and Review Papers. Available at: Accessed February 17, 2018.
4. Dauphinee WD, Anderson MB. Maturation (and déjà vu) comes to the research in medical education program at age 51. Acad Med 2012;87(10):1307–1309.
5. Pepley DF, Sonntag CC, Prabhu RS, et al. Building ultrasound phantoms with modified polyvinyl chloride: a comparison of needle insertion forces and sonographic appearance with commercial and traditional simulation materials. Simul Healthc 2018;13:149–153.
6. Wong AH, Auerbach MA, Ruppel H, et al. Addressing dual patient and staff safety through a team-based standardized patient simulation for agitation management in the emergency department. Simul Healthc 2018;13:154–162.
7. Diederich E, Thomas L, Mahnken J, Lineberry M. Pretest scores uniquely predict one-year delayed performance in a simulation-based mastery course for central line insertion. Simul Healthc 2018;13:163–167.
8. Campbell SJ, Bechara R, Islam S. Point-of-care ultrasound in the intensive care unit. Clin Chest Med 2018;39(1):79–97.
9. Su E, Dalesio N, Pustavoitau A. Point-of-care ultrasound in pediatric anesthesiology and critical care medicine. Can J Anaesth 65(4):485–498.

research; investigator; publication; submission; FIRES; simulation; education; abstracts; conference; IMSH

© 2018 Society for Simulation in Healthcare