Category Archives: pfps15

Social Media in Medical Education

Social media could be of great use in higher education by creating a dynamic environment in the classroom. Social media has been used as a teaching instrument by educators in diverse institutions and a wide variate of subjects.

For instance, professors George and Dellasega, from the Penn State Hersey College of Medicine in Hershey, USA, developed two graduate-level medical humanities education classes, in which Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Skype and Facebook were regularly used as educational tools.

The first course, Creative Writing for Medicine, used Twitter to share writing prompts from the instructor, students were able to expand their thoughts about the prompt in a class-wide shared blog. At the end of the class students were asked to summarize some of their thoughts in a letter, to teach how to capture ideas online to transfer them in paper. Skype was also used in this class to allow student interaction with the author of a book.

The second course, The Narratives if Aging: Exploring Creative Approaches to Dementia Care, used YouTube to expose students to different cultural perceptions of Alzheimer’s disease. YouTube allowed students to see people with dementia engaging in therapeutical psychosocial activities. Moreover, students visited assisted living facilities and interacted with residents and staff. Students took pictures during their visits. The final project for the class involved the use of Flickr to create a scrapbook that was shared with the class and residents.

For more detailed information refer to: George and Dellasega. 2011. Use of social media in graduate-level medical humanities education: Two pilot studies from Penn State College of Medicine. Medical teacher, 33: e429-434.  DOI: 10.3109/0142159X.2011.586749

Conservation Physiology an Open Access Journal

Conservation Physiology, a fully open access journal (authors  and readers can publish and access the content for free), is published on behalf of the Society for Experimental Biology and it is part of the Oxford University press in the UK.

The purpose of Conservation Physiology is to publish research on all taxa related to how organisms, populations, and ecosystems respond physiologically  to environmental changes. Research related to restoration of populations and ecosystems including policy and management is also suitable for this journal.

Even though this journal does not address directly open access, they have a link offering information about open access from the publishing company, Oxford University Press (OUP). The mission of the OUP, on open access, is to facilitate the widest possible dissemination of high quality research, while embracing both green and gold open access.

The OUP has adopted publishing open access journals since 2004, and has accomplished it in different ways. For instance, the journal of Nucleic Acids Research, a former subscription publication, was moved to an open access model in 2005; thereafter in 2013 it achieved its highest impact factor ever. The OUP has also launched new, fully open access journals, such as Conservation Physiology.

The OUP recognizes economical constrains of offering fully open access for all journals. In fact, they identify publication expenses such as article processing charges.  Although, they highlight the importance of scholarly societies and associations to cover those charges in fully open access journals. In the near future the OUP expects the publishing industry to be mixed; some areas of research might fit fully open access better, while others might require optional open access (i.e. authors pay extra for this feature).

Conservation Physiology fits the model of the OUP by partnering with the Society for Experimental Biology to cover publishing expenses. My guess is that the professional society obtains funds to cover the journal expenses from both membership and meeting registration fees. In the end, researchers, universities and institutes appear to still be paying, indirectly, to be able to publish. Nevertheless, the benefit to the general community of open access is that everyone is able to attain the information for free.

Falsifying and Fabricating Data in Scientific Research are Unethical Actions (Case of Briones T.L.).

Most professions follow a code of ethics to provide the best quality service with professional and personal integrity. Professionals violating their code of ethics (e.g. professional misconduct) could face sanctions imposed by an ethics board, or similar entity. For instance, ethical conduct of researchers in the field of health and human services is reviewed and monitored by the Office for Research Integrity (ORI).

The case of Dr. Teresita Briones, a neuroscientist and associate professor in the College of Nursing at Wayne State University, is an example of ethical violation in scientific research and illustrates the consequences of research misconduct.

The ORI investigated Dr. Briones and found research misconduct activities in research supported by federal agencies such as the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR), National Institutes of Health (NIH).  According to the ORI, Dr. Briones misconduct, related to falsifying and fabricating data, was evident in five scientific publications and three grant applications. Specifically, Dr. Briones intentionally and knowingly duplicated, reused, and falsely relabeled images of tests and claimed they originated from different experiments.

As of April-7-2015, the ORI issued sanctions, and both parties agreed on the following:

  • The five scientific publications to be voluntarily retracted from the scientific journals.
  • Dr. Briones agreed to exclude herself (for three years) from:
    • Contracting and subcontracting with any US agency.
    • Any advisory capacity for the US Public Health Service, board, peer-review committee or consultant.

Follow the link below for detailed information regarding this case (

To date (April-15-2015), I was able to access online all the publications in question. Her publications are in well-stablished journals with restricted and open access. I imagine that the process of removing publications after they are released is very slow. It would be interesting to see how long it takes for the publications to disappear online.

In summary, this case shows the importance of following professional ethical codes and the ability of a regulatory agency to detect and impose sanctions for professional misconduct.

Comparing Mission Statements from Two Colombian Universities

The objective of this post is to contrast the mission statement of two Colombian universities. The first statement is from the largest public university (funded by the central government), Universidad Nacional de Colombia and second is from the largest private university, Universidad de los Andes.

Universidad Nacional’s mission statement can be found in Spanish at You can read my translation to english below.

“As the University of the nation, we promote access with equity to the Colombian educational system, provides the largest number of academic programs, forms competent and socially responsible professionals. Contributes to the elaboration and resignification of the nation’s project, studies and enriches the national cultural, natural, and environmental patrimony of the country. As such, it provides consultations in the scientific, technologic, cultural, and artistic fields with both academic and research autonomy.”

Universidad de Los Andes’ mission statement can be found at You can read it below.

“Universidad de los Andes is an autonomous, independent, and innovative institution that fosters pluralism, tolerance, and respect for ideas. It aims for academic excellence while providing rigorous critical and ethical character development, in order to enhance in all students an awareness of their social and citizenship responsibilities, as well as a firm commitment to the society. The university’s student body, in an environment of interdisciplinary and flexible integral character development, becomes the chief agent of the educational process. A highly skilled, knowledgeable, and prestigious faculty facilitates the development of an outstanding academic and professional life project that supports research, contributes to the development of the country, and transcends its geographical boundaries.”

These two mission statements have many similarities as they mention the social role of the institutions and briefly describe their academic activities. However, Universidad Nacional appear to have a heavier social component. It seems like this university cooperates with the government in achieving social goals to promote equity in education, educating socially conscious professionals and aiding in the resignification process of the nation.

On the other hand I perceived multiple differences in these statements. For instance, Universidad Nacional makes emphasis in their interest in cultural aspects, Universidad de Los Andes doesn’t A clear divergence between these two statement is that Universidad de los Andes wants to have an impact inside the country as well as beyond geographical boundaries, however, Universidad Nacional only mentions functions and objectives tied to the nation. Part of this disparity could be the source of funding from these two institutions, the first is a private university and the second obtains most of it;s funding from governmental sources.mention this component in their mission.

I think that the statement by Universidad de los Andes has a more “modern” approach. It mentions pluralism and multidisciplinary, which are crucial components of modern educational models.

In summary I found that these two statements have great similarities as they both state their activities and objectives, but clear differences emerge in what aspects of society they want impact.