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Discussion Paper: The Canberra Meeting: An initiative for building research capacity in health professions education

Jonathan S Foo, Anique Atherley, Julie Ash, Wendy Hu


Introduction: There are few dedicated health professions education research centres in Australia and New Zealand. As a result, researchers, especially novices, can often feel isolated. In this discussion paper, we introduce The Canberra Meeting—an initiative for building research capacity in health professions education by developing a community of practice through an annual meeting. In this meeting, novice researchers present on significant problems or questions arising from their research, known as a dilemma presentation, and facilitate discussion with an audience of peer PhD students, earlycareer researchers and senior researchers. The meeting aims to provide an opportunity to expand professional networks, exchange ideas and build knowledge.

Innovation: A half-day pilot meeting was held in Canberra prior to the 2019 ANZAHPE conference. The meeting was designed for, and planned by, novice researchers. There were 37 attendees, including 13 who self-identified as novice researchers. Three half-hour dilemma sessions were held, comprised of 10 minutes of presentation time followed by 20 minutes of discussion.

Evaluation and outcomes: Feedback on the pilot was sought through prompted group discussions. The following guiding principles were developed, including that the initiative should be 1) inclusive to all health professions and seek to reach isolated researchers; 2) accessible, by providing equal opportunity of access; 3) constructive, such that participants feel safe to present and engage in discussions; and 4) sustainable, such that the community of practice continues despite changes in individual membership.

What’s next: Planning is currently underway for a meeting prior to the next ANZAHPE conference. The event will be publicly advertised.


community of practice; researcher development; capacity building; health professions education research

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