Imagining the scholarly playground: An examination of the health professions education literature

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Health professions education (HPE) involves diverse disciplines (e.g., health, education, psychology) and clinical backgrounds (e.g., nursing, dentistry, medicine). So, how can we define HPE? Is it a ‘profession’, or simply an umbrella term? Imagine the HPE literature as a scholarly playground; a site of play, socialisation and learning, but potentially a site of segregation and exclusion. Are nurses exploring educational issues with doctors? Are vets and dentists collaborating to solve problems?
This research sought to understand knowledge sharing and boundaries in the HPE literature.
This mixed methods case study was informed by two theoretical propositions from the sociology of professions literature: professions are characterised by their own body of knowledge; and professions align and distance themselves from other professions. We identified 49 HPE-focussed journals (2006-
2015) and used content analysis to examine each journal’s scope notes. From this, we identified 11 professional groups, forming the basis of our citation analysis.
Professional and organisational boundaries were identified. Knowledge sharing was also evident, demonstrated by shared domains of interest (e.g., curriculum). Citation analysis is underway and will be presented.
Results suggest that HPE can be considered a profession, as demonstrated by the identification of 49 relevant journals, and shared domains of interest. Yet while knowledge is shared, boundaries are also evident.
Understanding where knowledge is shared and bounded within the scholarly HPE playground can assist authors to increase publication success by determining where their papers are best placed, and how to frame their narratives to traverse boundaries.


  • publishing
  • research
  • scholarship
  • health professions education


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