Promotions and Academic Scholarship, Part II – Types of Scholarship

Todd P Chang
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Todd P Chang

DIvisional Director for Research & Scholarship, Associate Fellowship Director, Division of Emergency Medicine at Children's Hospital Los Angeles
Todd is the Director of Technology for the INSPIRE Network with David Kessler & Marc Auerbach. Todd was formerly the Faculty Advisor and Head Site Administrator for the website's predecessor, pemfellows.com. He lives in Pasadena, CA, with his partner and 2 ridiculous cats that are probably sitting on his head as you read this.
Todd P Chang
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To view Part I, click here

Today, we’re going to discuss the types of scholarship – or, if you want to get really academic, as in the tweed jacket, brandy-swilling, elbow patches pontification academic – the domains of scholarship.  For those of us in basic sciences research, your type of scholarship is fairly linear and obvious:

  1. Kill rats and isolate their genetic whatever.

  2. Publish randomized control study research results like crazy.

  3. Get a zillion dollars in funding.

For those of us not in basic sciences research, it’s a little murkier.  In fact, even for those in research-heavy tracks (also called clinician-investigator tracks in some universities), this is not as easy.  In addition, there is now a push for more well-roundedness even with the emphasis on individualization within faculty development.  As a result, the definition of scholarship should be addressed.  It’s more inclusive than the (mildly) exaggerated version above.

This is Ernest Boyer.  He wrote Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate.  And in this book published in the 20th century, he outlined a more global view of scholarship that isn’t just limited to rat-murder money-mongering (not that there’s anything wrong with that!).  Essentially, scholarship can come from any of these 4 domains:

  1. Scholarship of Discovery
  2. Scholarship of Integration
  3. Scholarship of Application
  4. Scholarship of Teaching

Roughly speaking, these translate to modern domains you may have encountered when you signed your faculty hiring papers:

  1. Research

  2. Service

  3. Clinical Work

  4. Teaching & Education

3. Clinical Work is fairly obvious for most of us with an M.D. or D.O. or M.BBS.  But there are 3 potential domains to spread your scholarly energy.  What this implies is that even if you are dead-set on one domain, you should engage in scholarly activity in all domains, even if not equally.  For example, suppose you are a basic sciences researcher.  Evidence of Scholarship of Discovery comes from your presentations, publications, and grant funding surrounding your rat-killing.  However, to round out your scholarly advancement, you can join relevant university-level or national/international committees and organizations as evidence of Scholarship of Integration.  Ideally, you will pick organizations that reflect your research interest; if you’re a researcher, you should say no to committees on education.  Because seriously, you will suck at it and hate it.  And your Scholarship of Teaching should be heavily based on your mentorship activities with your post-docs or other researchers.  That actually counts!

Calvin & Hobbes by Bill Watterson Image URL from http://blogs.fortlewis.edu/jmurillovega/

Conversely, if you are an educator and choose to focus on Scholarship of Teaching, then your main scholarly energy is spent pursuing avenues for teaching and curricular development, particularly with peer-review.  Your publications will not necessarily be in empirical studies (although a few should be), but will focus more on publishing your scholarly innovations, your new curricula, and new assessment tools, which represents your Scholarship of Discovery.  If you are able to disseminate this knowledge through workshops and national organizations beyond your hospital or university, you’ve then accomplished Scholarship of Integration.

The point of this discussion is that no matter what your scholarly passion (we didn’t even cover the advocacy route which centers on Scholarship of Integration & Service), there are many ways to expand your scholarly work to the other domains.  Educators who traditionally hate research can accomplish educational research and educational discoveries simply with collaboration and planning.  Likewise, basic sciences researchers who hate to teach, can focus their teaching energies to their laboratory mentorship, and demonstrating continued leadership within the lab, attending workshops on lab mentorship, and growing strong post-grads under their tutelage.

The key to all of this is good planning and documenting; you don’t have to just publish randomized control studies, or even just studies.  We’ll cover this in the next installments.

Todd P Chang

Todd P Chang

Todd is the Director of Technology for the INSPIRE Network with David Kessler & Marc Auerbach. Todd was formerly the Faculty Advisor and Head Site Administrator for the website's predecessor, pemfellows.com. He lives in Pasadena, CA, with his partner and 2 ridiculous cats that are probably sitting on his head as you read this.