February 1st, 2013

Your Blog, Your CV, and Academic Promotion

“Doctor, could we have a copy of your most recent CV?”

“Sure,” I said, realizing it hadn’t been updated recently.

It is interesting how I approach my academic pursuits now.  It used to be that it was “publish or perish” in the world of academic medicine.  Of course, even now the only “publishing” that counts to the academic world is that of conventional peer-reviewed journals with high impact factors (or grant applications that bring in dollars).  But publishing for the sake of publishing may have its limits, too, since some researchers chose to publish the same research data in many publications and in different formats just to pad their curriculum vitae (CV).

We’re seeing a new era of complete disruption in medicine.  Scientific publishing is no different.  Peer-reviewed journals, while still considered most “scientific” by the academic community, are finding their relatively long turn-around times and paywalls competing against more nimble peer-reviewed open access journals that foster and promote broad commentary across disciplines for free.  Blogs, too, encourage open, free communication and, because they are often syndicated using RSS feed, can have a significant “impact factor” to not only the public, but more conventional main stream media.

It is no secret that I have published MUCH more on this blog’s pages than I ever would have via peer reviewed journals.  After all, it can be enjoyable and there is virtually no barrier to entering a discussion here.  I have enjoyed the to and fro commentary here and found there are many insightful individuals that greatly enrich not only this blog’s content, but my perspective.  In effect, writer and reader both learn here.


But there’s another interesting thing I’ve come to find as a result of my work to publish here that academic centers who want to influence discussions should know: I am certain that several topics I have covered in these pages have had MUCH more influence on my chosen field than they they would have had I published just in a closed access, peer-reviewed journal.  Hyperlinks can substantiate claims.  As such, blogs can be change agents and influence action.  In return, I find the process of researching and publishing in this forum increasingly worthwhile professionally.  Writing here can also keep me sane when I need it most.

Sure, there are legal risks to publishing a blog.  HIPAA rules, the permanence of this record, the need to avoid defamation, etc. are critical aspects of working in this public space.  But opinions and unique perspectives that are freely searchable on the internet can spark other ideas or areas for analysis not previously considered in the fixed black-and-white world of print media.  Discussion threads, while now more commonplace behind journal paywalls, remain restrictive to public discovery and review there.

Currently, a link to my blog exists on my curriculum vitae.  I realize it may never be reviewed by the academic medical world nor might it facilitate my academic promotion.  For me, I won’t be crushed if that’s the case.  But for younger doctors just getting started, their efforts at maintaining a well-written scientific blog should be rewarded academically in my view, just like a scientific paper.  After all, a good blog can contribute to important scientific and educational discussions.

Perhaps it’s time academic centers routinely include social media contributions as a regular part of their academic promotion criteria.  It’s not everything, certainly.  But careful, thoughtful, and responsible online writing and interactions should be valued and promoted formally by academic centers in this internet age.

3 Responses to “Your Blog, Your CV, and Academic Promotion”

  1. Great post Wes. I like to tell my arrhythmia patients, “What was, isn’t always what is.” This is clearly the case for publications medical.

    I searched an ICD topic that day many years ago. It was DoctorWes that popped up, not JACC or CIRC. Who is this guy Wes? I asked myself. What Is a blog? Then, when I read your words, I was hooked. They were clear, actionable, enjoyable and free. What’s not to like?

    Are you putting together a poster, or a talk, or a paper? Why not keep your peers and patients up to date with a blog entry. You learn something about cryo ablation, tell us in your own words. It’s a great idea. Frustrated with EMR? Scratch that, bad example.

    Thanks for piquing my interest in this emerging and exciting field. My only reservation is that with all the liberal arts talent coming into medicine, there will be much less need for radiation-toxic cardiologists who earned Cs in English.


  2. Jean-Pierre Usdin, MD says:

    Dear doctor Fisher
    On the same front page of this Cardio Exchange issue you have a good example to support your interesting paper:

    Number One: Publish and run.
    Number Two: Speed of the information in E mail-Century
    Number Three: immediate discussion via blog by colleagues.

    Look at the “European Heart Journal retracted paper concerning the Kyoto heart study”:
    The authors published in many periodics and in spite of some editorial suspicions they probably were cited in many articles.
    Independent readers via their blogs opened up the discussion and finally lead European Heart Journal’s verdict.
    Immediate information in the Net which probably would have taken (some) months ten years ago!
    And my (modest) comment in your blog. I would never have the opportunity to discuss that way may be: ten years ago. And this is a part of the success of Cardio Exchange (no conflicts of interest with this on line peer review!)

    Now we can replace “publish and run” by “open a blog and share”
    Thank you for your interesting theme.

  3. Dear Drs Mandrola and Usdin –

    Thank you.

    Sadly, the problems with conflicts of interest among even prominent journals continue. While advertising is one avenue, at least this is overt. More covert is the propensity of these journals to publish randomized controlled clinical trials sponsored by special interests.

    From Public Library of Science (PLoS):

    “The evidence is strong that companies are getting the results they want, and this is especially worrisome because two-thirds to three-quarters of the trials published in major journals – the Annals of Internal Medicine, JAMA, Lancet, and the New England Journal of Medicine – are funded by industry.”

    Yessir, blogs are invaluable to the true scientific peer-review process and should be considered an important contribution to one’s academic credentials.