What Is an Innovation Article? A Systematic Overview of Innovation in Health Professions Education Journals

Jorie M. Colbert-Getz, S. Beth Bierer, Andrea Berry, Elizabeth Bradley, Heeyoung Han, Christopher Mooney, Karen Szauter, Cayla R. Teal, Julie Youm, Bridget C. O'Brien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Purpose Innovation articles have their own submission category and guidelines in health professions education (HPE) journals, which suggests innovation might be a unique genre of scholarship. Yet, the requirements for innovation submissions vary among journals, suggesting ambiguity about the core content of this type of scholarship. To reduce this ambiguity, the researchers conducted a systematic overview to identify key features of innovation articles and evaluate their consistency in use across journals. Findings from this review may have implications for further development of innovation scholarship within HPE. Method In this systematic overview, conducted in 2020, the researchers identified 13 HPE journals with innovation-type articles and used content analysis to identify key features from author guidelines and publications describing what editors look for in innovation articles. The researchers then audited a sample of 39 innovation articles (3/journal) published in 2019 to determine presence and consistency of 12 innovation features within and across HPE journals. Audit findings informed the researchers' evaluation of innovation as a genre in HPE. Results Findings show variability of innovation feature presence within and across journals. On average, articles included 7.8 of the 12 innovation features (SD 2.1, range 3-11). The most common features were description of: how the innovation was implemented (92%), a problem (90%), what was new or novel (79%), and data or outcomes (77%). On average, 5.5 (SD 1.5) out of 12 innovation features were consistently used in articles within each journal. Conclusions The authors identified common features of innovation article types based on journal guidelines, but there was variability in presence and consistency of these features, suggesting HPE innovations are in an emerging state of genre development. The authors discuss potential reasons for variability within this article type and highlight the need for further discussion among authors, editors, and reviewers to improve clarity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S39-S47
JournalAcademic Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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