Article Text

Original research
Diversity in health professional education scholarship: a document analysis of international author representation in leading journals
  1. Brittany Buffone1,
  2. Ilena Djuana1,
  3. Katherine Yang1,
  4. Kyle J Wilby2,
  5. Maguy S El Hajj3,
  6. Kerry Wilbur1
  1. 1 Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  2. 2 School of Pharmacy, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
  3. 3 College of Pharmacy, Qatar University, Doha, Qatar
  1. Correspondence to Dr Kerry Wilbur; kerry.wilbur{at}


Objectives The global distribution of health professionals and associated training programmes is wide but prior study has demonstrated reported scholarship of teaching and learning arises from predominantly Western perspectives.

Design We conducted a document analysis to examine authorship of recent publications to explore current international representation.

Data sources The table of contents of seven high-impact English-language health professional education journals between 2008 and 2018 was extracted from Embase.

Eligibility criteria The journals were selected according to highest aggregate ranking across specific scientific impact indices and stating health professional education in scope; only original research and review articles from these publications were included for analysis.

Data extraction and synthesis The table of contents was extracted and eligible publications screened by independent reviewers who further characterised the geographic affiliations of the publishing research teams and study settings (if applicable).

Results A total 12 018 titles were screened and 7793 (64.8%) articles included. Most were collaborations (7048, 90.4%) conducted by authors from single geographic regions (5851, 86%). Single-region teams were most often formed from countries in North America (56%), Northern Europe (14%) or Western Europe (10%). Overall lead authorship from Asian, African or South American regions was less than 15%, 5% and 1%, respectively. Geographic representation varied somewhat by journal, but not across time.

Conclusions Diversity in health professional education scholarship, as marked by nation of authors’ professional affiliations, remains low. Under-representation of published research outside Global North regions limits dissemination of novel ideas resulting in unidirectional flow of experiences and a concentrated worldview of teaching and learning.

  • health professional education
  • research
  • scholarship
  • diversity
  • inclusion
  • publication

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Supplementary materials

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    This web only file has been produced by the BMJ Publishing Group from an electronic file supplied by the author(s) and has not been edited for content.


  • Twitter @kerrywilbur

  • Contributors KW designed and conceived the project. BB, ID and KY collected and curated the data with integrity checks by KW, MSEH and KJW. All authors contributed to the analysis and synthesis of the findings. BB, ID and KY wrote the sections of the first draft and all authors contributed to and approved the final manuscript draft by KW.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement No data are available.