October 2003 Bulletin

AAOS: Authors of digital publications deserve academic credit

Board adopts new advisory statement

The Academy has a rich tradition of publishing high-quality, innovative digital publications both online and on CD-ROM and DVD. Digital publications, such as Orthopaedic Knowledge Online (OKO) and online CME courses, are produced with the same intellectual rigor as traditional print publications, and their content must be objective, current and educational. The peer review process for digital publications, in varying degrees, mirrors that of print publications.

However, the authors and editors of digital publications often do not receive the same level of academic recognition for their work that authors and editors of comparable print publications are granted.

“It’s common for an Academy member to invest more time in creating a module for a multimedia program than in preparing a chapter for a textbook,” explains Howard Mevis, director of electronic media, evaluation and course operations at the Academy.

In spite of that, “Many of our authors and editors felt they weren’t receiving the recognition that they need in order to further their careers,” says Marilyn Fox, director of publications. “When they did a multimedia program on DVD or a topic on OKO, they felt it didn’t carry as much prestige as contributing to a journal or textbook. The Council on Education believes that, assuming the same review process and editorial oversight are performed for an online program, it should carry the same intellectual weight as print products.”

This prompted the Council to study the issue and ultimately led to the approval of an AAOS advisory statement on the topic.

“The Council investigated the problem and developed this statement to ensure that people receive appropriate credit,” says Mark Wieting, AAOS vice president of education programs.

AAOS encourages growing trend toward granting recognition

The Council created a Project Team on Academic Recognition of Online Publications to review the current practices of selected academic departments regarding professional recognition for authoring or editing digital publications.

Project team members, including chair James A. Nunley II, MD, contacted the deans and the promotions committees at a number of academic institutions across the country to solicit their thoughts as well as the current university policy on digital contributions. Responding institutions included Duke University Medical School, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Medicine, University of Arizona College of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University Medical School, University of Virginia Medical School and Mayo Medical School.

The responses showed that although a wide range of credentialing practices exists, the recent trend is toward granting recognition for digital work, particularly for electronic publications that undergo peer review.

“Each academic institution already has a way to recognize online contributions, and each is working through how best to weight these in the overall scheme of tenure and promotions,” Dr. Nunley says.

In response to the project team report, the Council on Education developed an advisory statement that reflects the following beliefs:

Statement approved

The Board of Directors approved the statement, Recognition for Authoring and Editing Digital Publications, at its September 2003 meeting.

“The statement enunciates the importance and growing intellectual legitimacy of Web publications and urges program chairs and other academic leaders to accord them the same importance as comparable print publications,” says Council on Education Chairman Joseph D. Zuckerman, MD.

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